Metal Poisoning

Metal poisoning, or more specifically heavy metal poisoning, is the accretion of chemical elements such as arsenic, cadmium and lead in the adipose and muscle tissues of the human body. "Heavy" merely defines the density of the metal as compared to water. Some of these elements, such as chromium, iron and zinc are essential, in small amounts, for the proper functioning of the human body.

Ways to Enter the Body

Metals may enter the body through ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the skin. Ingesting mercury laden fish, occupational exposure to lead infused paint and even the amalgams in your teeth can lead to heavy metal poisoning. More recently joint replacement patients are experiencing a rise in metal poisoning caused by the absorption of metal shavings as a byproduct to the breakdown the of artificial joint, including several models of the DePuy Hip replacement devices.

Damage to Body

Upon entering the body, the more poisonous metals compete with less aggressive ones and displace them leading to a disruption of the normal organ processes. Immediate damage is done to the organ. In addition, normal bodily processes cannot remove the more aggressive metal leading to further degradation of the organ.

Symptoms of Metal Poisoning

Early indications are similar to any other intestinal distress. Diarrhea, vomiting and intense sweating are evinced as the body tries to relieve itself of the toxin's elements. In addition, headaches and a distinctive metallic taste in the mouth are noticed. As the metal poisoning becomes more severe, the patient becomes delusional and loses much of his cognitive ability. In the case of lead, a bluish black line may be noticed in the gum tissues.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Metal Poisoning

Although the initial symptoms are usually non-specific, an experienced physician will usually suspect heavy metal poisoning after a review of the patient's lifestyle, occupation, eating habits or exposure to metal shavings from a defective joint replacement. Standard procedure for the confirmation of heavy metal poisoning is an exhaustive series of blood, urine, hair and tissue analysis to exactly define the metal and, more importantly, its concentration in the body.

Treatment

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, it is imperative to start treatment for metal poisoning as soon as possible as significant damage can accrue to the patient's nervous and digestive systems. Chelation therapy is the introduction to the body of another compound that is highly and specifically attractive to the heavy metal. As the metal and the chelating agent react, they form a tightly-bonded, water soluble compound that is removed by the kidneys and liver and subsequently flushed from the body. Currently, DMSA is the preferred agent for the remediation of heavy metal poisoning, although there are reports of even more effective agents. Though the chelating process is sometimes lengthy and most often requires hospitalization, it is relatively safe with few side effects. In addition, if heavy metal poisoning is caught within a reasonable time frame, there are few lasting effects. If the metal poisoning is caused by a defective joint replacement removal of the defective joint is imperitive.

More Information

Highly effective treatment regimens have been established to combat and reverse the worst effects of heavy metal poisoning. If you feel that you or a loved one have been afflicted by metal poisoning, please let our experienced staff guide and advise you in finding proper diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.