There are many forms of body poisons, and one that some people have to contend with today is Mercury poisoning. What exactly is Mercury poisoning? You may ask. Well, this is human or animal body poisoning as a result of excessive exposure to mercury. This can be either through the diet or in one’s environment. Mercury is a heavy metal, and it is highly toxic to humans. Therefore, sustained consumption of food with mercury, whether in small or moderate amounts, leads to poisoning.
At room temperature, mercury is a liquid, and it quickly evaporates into the air. Some of the Mercury that we take into our bodies is borne of industrial process like burning coal for power. Usually, vaporized mercury ends up in the soil, water, and rain, where it generally poses a risk to humans, plants, and animals.
What are the symptoms and early signs of mercury poisoning in humans?
Mercury can affect your nervous systems and cause several neurological symptoms such as memory challenges, numbness, nervousness and anxiety, irritability and mood changes, physical body tremors and depression
More symptoms will appear as the mercury builds up in the body, and these symptoms may manifest according to one’s age and the level of exposure. As an adult, you may notice symptoms like
- Breathing difficulties
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty in walking or standing
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling uncoordinated
- Changes in speech, vision or hearing
- Lack of coordination ( Lack of motor skills)
Mercury can grossly affect a child’s early development, and such kids may exhibit symptoms such as
- Thinking problems and a weak problem-solving ability ( Intelligence disorders i.e., low IQ )
- Poor motor skills
- Faint memory and lack of concentration
- Weak eye and hand coordination
- Difficulties in developing speech or understanding language
- Poor physical awareness of one’s surrounding
- Poor reflexes
Leading causes of mercury poisoning
Too much dependence on seafood can expose a person to mercury poisoning. This is particularly so with sea or lake creatures that inhabited areas contaminated by toxic industrial effluence. Some people get poisoned by mercury thermometers, old paints, and dental fillings. Other causes include
- Certain vaccinations
- Gold mining
- Certain types of jewelry
- Living near an industrial area
- Skincare products laced with excessive mercury
- Eating vegetables and fruits irrigated by sewage or toxic industrial effluence
How to check for Mercury poisoning
The doctor who associates your symptoms with mercury poisoning may want to know a bit more about your physical environment ie, where you live and work. After that, they may run a blood or urine test to gauge the levels of mercury in the body.
The doctor may recommend a change of diet in case your diagnosis points to dietary exposure. And in case mercury features on your list of residential or occupational hazards, you will be advised to relocate or change jobs.
Some severe cases of mercury poisoning may require a type of treatment called Chelation Therapy. Chelation is the process of using drugs to remove mercury from the organs so that the body can dispose of it. The medication comes with its share of side effects, so it is better to go for it when it is necessary.
So far, there is no standard cure for mercury poisoning, so it is better to avoid exposure in the best way that you can.