Symptoms and Signs of Mercury Poisoning

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Mercury Poisoning

Mercury is an element that exists in several forms: elemental or metallic mercury, inorganic mercury compounds, and organic mercury compounds. Fish and shellfish are the main sources of methylmercury exposure in humans due to a highly toxic form of mercury (methylmercury) that accumulates in the tissues of fish, shellfish and animals that eat fish.

High levels of exposure to mercury can damage the brain, kidneys, heart, lungs, and immune function. High levels of methylmercury in pregnant women and young children may harm the infant or child’s developing nervous system. Symptoms associated with methylmercury poisoning include impairment of peripheral vision, sensory disturbances, coordination problems, speech impairment, and muscle weakness. Symptoms associated with elemental mercury poisoning can include tremors, muscle atrophy, twitching, insomnia, and emotional changes.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.