Font Size
A
A
A

Mercury Poisoning (cont.)

Mercury Poisoning Symptoms

Patient Comments

Symptoms of mercury poisoning can be numerous and may occur either rapidly or over long periods of time. In general, symptoms occur and progress more rapidly the higher the dose of mercury encountered. Exposure to the various forms of mercury can result in some similar and some different symptoms. Symptoms can be grouped into three categories based on the form of mercury toxicity; 1) elemental and vaporized mercury, 2) organic mercury, and 3) inorganic mercury.

Elemental and Vaporized Mercury Poisoning Symptoms

Elemental mercury toxicity (which usually occurs in the vaporized form) can cause:

  • mood swings, nervousness, irritability, and other emotional changes,
  • insomnia,
  • headache,
  • abnormal sensations,
  • muscle twitching,
  • tremors,
  • weakness,
  • muscle atrophy, and
  • decreased cognitive functions.

High exposures of elemental mercury can cause kidney malfunction, respiratory failure, and death.

Organic Mercury Poisoning Symptoms

Organic mercury toxicity (most frequently in the methylmercury form from ingestion), causes neurological malfunctions, and especially in a fetus, impaired neurological development. Other symptoms include:

  • peripheral vision impairment,
  • stinging or needle-like sensations in the extremities and mouth,
  • loss of coordination,
  • muscle weakness, and
  • other impairments of speech and hearing.

Since many pregnant women have had methylmercury toxicity, the effects of this toxicity on their children was studied. Importantly, the fetal brain was shown to be very sensitive to methylmercury; developmental impairments such as reduced ability in thinking, attention span, memory, and most motor skills occurred in various degrees, often severe, even if the mother developed few if any symptoms.

Inorganic Mercury Poisoning Symptoms

Inorganic mercury toxicity often causes skin rashes and inflammation (dermatitis). If ingested, it can dissolve tissues and some may be absorbed by the intestinal tissue. Large amounts of ingested inorganic mercury may cause bloody diarrhea. Absorbed mercury can spread to other organ systems resulting in mental changes including mood swings and memory loss or renal damage. Muscle weakness may also occur.

Other Mercury Poisoning Symptoms

Many other symptoms and health problems have been attributed to mercury poisoning (for example, high blood pressure, endometriosis, headaches) in anecdotal reports in the popular press and in a few case reports in scientific publications. Currently, there are no good studies to support these claims; however, if people have concerns about their symptoms and health problems related to mercury exposure, they should discuss their concerns with their doctor.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/6/2014

Must Read Articles Related to Mercury Poisoning

Activated Charcoal
Activated Charcoal Activated charcoal is a substance used when a person has ingested a poison (drugs or chemicals). Activated charcoal absorbs the poisons in the GI tract. Activat...learn more >>
Battery Ingestion
Battery Ingestion Battery ingestion commonly occurs in children five years of age and younger, and in the elderly. Symptoms of battery ingestion include vomiting, gagging, abdomi...learn more >>
Gastrointestinal Bleeding
Gastrointestinal Bleeding Gastrointestinal bleeding either comes from the upper GI or lower GI tract. Upper GI bleeding can be caused by ulcers, gastritis, varices, cancer, or inflammati...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Mercury Poisoning:

Mercury Poisoning - Patient Experience

What symptoms prompted you to seek medical care for your mercury poisoning? Please describe your experience.





Medical Dictionary