Mercury poisoning: symptoms and treatment
Mercury poisoning is one of the most serious poisonings of the body, which is dangerous for its consequences. Most often, mercury enters the body in the form of dust or steam, with breathing or food. If this substance has got in a small amount and only once, it will not cause harm to health — mercury will be withdrawn from the body without additional actions. If you get into the blood — through the kidneys along with the urine, into the digestive tract — with the feces. Such a metal, getting into the body, is not absorbed into the tissues and leaves in an unchanged form.
If this substance is in a small amount, the symptoms of poisoning may be mild or completely absent (often reminiscent of other diseases, for example, disorders of the nervous system, digestive or respiratory system). The lethal outcome of poisoning with salts or mercury vapor can occur only in large accidents in mercury production.
In order to poison the child, you need a much smaller amount of vapors — this is due not only to the fact that the small organism is not protected from toxins, but because the baby does not always understand what is beneficial for the body and what does not. The situation is further complicated by the fact that a child can break a thermometer and do not say anything about it to adults, and the mercury content in the thermometer is enough to poison a small child. In addition, metal particles in foods are often found. Quite rarely, intoxication of the baby mercury can accurately diagnose. Often this condition is explained by doctors as a usual poisoning or pathology of the digestive system.
The causes of mercury poisoning are clear — getting a certain amount of liquid metal into the body. It is worth investigating, from where, in general, can get mercury in such quantities to lead to human poisoning. Factors due to which a certain amount of mercury can get into the human body:
- production conditions (during the manufacture of galvanic batteries that are made with a liquid metal content)
- metallurgical industry — when creating various compounds
- recycling of aluminum
- the chemical industry — as one of the reagents
- Agriculture — as part of pesticides for crop processing
- dentistry — one seal can contain from several milligrams to several hundred milligrams of this element
- fluorescent lamps — they can contain from one to 70 grams of substance, which is quite enough for poisoning the child
- medical thermometer, which contains less than two grams of the substance;
- food, in particular seafood — they can accumulate a large number of mercury salts. Characteristically, no processing of such products will reduce the concentration of this metal.
It follows that in order to poison oneself with vapors or mercury salts it will be necessary to try hard to find such a large amount of liquid metal. In cases where a medical thermometer or mercury-containing lamp is broken, it is necessary to follow simple rules for collecting mercury particles. To do this, you need to do the following — moisten several sheets of paper or newspaper in a solution of water and manganese, which will help to collect even the smallest grains of this substance. But do not use the vacuum cleaner, as this will only spread the particles of mercury throughout the room, this can lead to chronic poisoning with this substance.
There are several forms in which mercury poisoning can occur:
- acute form — characterized by a sharp manifestation of signs of intoxication, among which fever, severe headaches, frequent vomiting and diarrhea. A toxic shock can also develop which, in turn, often causes death of a person;
- chronic mercury poisoning — a gradual increase in the intensity of symptoms is typical for this variety. The disorders to which this results, are expressed not only in external manifestations, but also in internal disorders.
Depending on which of the forms described above is poisoned, the symptoms can differ. The acute form of intoxication has the following features:
- general weakness of the body
- Attacks of severe headache;
- total loss of appetite
- unpleasant sensations and soreness when a person attempts to swallow food or liquid
- the appearance of an unpleasant aftertaste of metal in the oral cavity
- increased saliva secretion
- bleeding and swelling of the gums;
- persistent nausea with frequent vomiting;
- impurities of blood and mucus in emetic and stools
- unbearable cramping in the abdomen and chest
- severe cough with phlegm
- shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
- a sharp increase in body temperature;
- detection, when diagnosed, of particles of the substance in the urine
- severe shivering of the patient.
These symptoms are typical for both adults and children, but it should be noted that in the child’s body these processes occur much faster than in the adult.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning in chronic form:
- fast fatigue of the victim
- constant drowsiness;
- severe dizziness;
- severe brittleness and hair loss
- Emotional disorders. A person loses self-confidence, is easily irritable, depressed and constrained;
- reduced concentration and memory
- Depression development
- sleep disturbances;
- when there is violent excitement, a tremor appears in the fingers of the upper and lower limbs;
- increased urge to urinate and feces;
- loss of smell
- lowering of blood pressure;
- increasing thyroid size
In a leaking flow or if untimely first aid is provided and doctors are not called in, pneumonia will develop, which can become a factor in the comatose state and death of the victim.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning from the thermometer have similar signs with a chronic form of poisoning. It is worth noting that only under certain circumstances can occur intoxication with mercury from the thermometer. Such circumstances are:
- age and weight of the victim. For an adult, the amount of mercury contained in the medical thermometer is not hazardous, but it can lead to the poisoning of a small child;
- the room temperature, where the mercury leakage occurred — if the room is very hot, the metal will quickly evaporate and take a gaseous appearance, which easily falls into the body;
- The size of the room.
The consequences of mercury poisoning can occur only in the chronic form of pathology. The most common complications suffer from small children and pregnant women. Thus, the consequences of mercury poisoning will be expressed in:
- violations of the functioning of the central nervous system and changes in the emotional state of a person
- coordination disorders and fine motor skills
- disorders of the functioning of the kidneys and organs of the digestive system
If untimely access for help when the first symptoms of poisoning are detected, the death of a person may occur.
The sooner the first-aid measures are taken for mercury poisoning and the faster transfer to the clinic, the greater the chances of recovery.
When carrying out the diagnosis, the first thing to do is to distinguish this disorder from other diseases of the digestive tract, kidney and blood circulation in the brain. In addition, diagnostic activities include:
- blood and urine tests for the determination of mercury particles in them. But it is worth remembering that for two weeks from the moment of the first ingress of metal into the body, these analyzes will have normal parameters. Therefore, if you do this before this date, there is the possibility of establishing an incorrect diagnosis;
- examination of the scalp on the head — this method is performed in a chronic form to determine the approximate time of exposure to mercury in the body. The essence of such a survey is that in an adult and a child every two months, the hair grows about one and a half centimeters. When mercury poisoning, hair growth slows down;
- introduction into the body of a special solution that will show the presence of metal.
When poisoning with a large amount of mercury, you need to call an ambulance, and before the doctors arrive to provide first aid for poisoning with mercury. To do this, you need to do the following:
- remove or take the victim to fresh air
- Try to rinse the stomach. If this is not possible, it is necessary to give the affected person activated charcoal, in the ratio of one tablet to ten kilograms of body weight, or water with the addition of egg white;
- Give a drink as much as possible of ordinary purified water, not strong tea or milk
- it is necessary to lay the injured person, and head to turn sideways, so that the person does not choke with vomit;
- if the poisoning occurred at home, it is necessary to give medicines containing calcium or glucose. In addition, you need to collect small mercury balls as quickly as possible;
- whenever possible, take a contrast shower and change clothes.
Upon the arrival of the doctors, the patient is taken to a medical facility where he is prescribed injections of dimercapto compounds and treats accompanying pathologies of internal organs.
In most cases, the prognosis for poisoning is favorable — the mortality rate is extremely low.
In order to avoid mercury poisoning, it is necessary:
- store thermometers with mercury in a protective bottle and away from children
- when breaking the thermometer, get rid of the grains of matter as soon as possible
- Install mercury lamps securely
- Regularly undergo medical examination to those people who work in close proximity to a large concentration of the metal.