Acute poisoning happens when a person is exposed to a large quantity of the toxin within a short period of time. This may happen via a few different routes, such as breathing the air in the immediate vicinity of a broken light bulb, receiving vaccines or other medical treatments routinely administered via injection, or accidental exposure from a medical or industrial source.
It's important to note that, acute poisoning via ingestion is an extremely rare occurrence in the case of heavy metals. This is because the body has built-in defenses within the digestive tract to deflect and inhibit the absorption of these materials through several relatively efficient means.
Chronic toxicity- and this is the kind we are most concerned with- happens when a person is exposed to small amounts of a toxin over a long period of time. This exposure may last for months, or years. Chronic poisoning may never occur; it all depends on the actual level of exposure, and the individual's ability to effectively remove the toxin from their body.
We are primarily concerned with chronic heavy metal toxicity. This type of toxicity is found in those who have had a long-term or ongoing exposure. It is paramount to the individual's health to first identify and remove the source of the exposure.
“Exposure to metals may occur through the diet, from medications, from the environment, or in the course of work or play. Where heavy metal toxicity is suspected, time taken to perform a thorough dietary, occupational, and recreational history is time well spent, since identification and removal of the source of exposure is frequently the only therapy required.”1
Symptoms of Chronic Heavy Metal Toxicity
Evidence and research—both new and old—show that mercury causes or plays a significant role in the following health issues (this is a partial list only):
- Nearsightedness & Farsightedness
- Autoimmune diseases
- Amylotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Parkinson's disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- Schizophrenia spectrum disorders
- Borderline personality disorder
- Panic attacks
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Learning disabilities
- Endocrine problems
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Manic depressive disorder
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Juvenile arthritis
- Lupus erythematosus
- Multiple chemical sensitivities
- Environmental illness
- Chronic fatigue
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Crohn's disease
- Sleep disorders
- Anorexia nervosa
- Floaters in the eyes
- Yeast syndrome
- Uncontrollable weight gain
- Hair loss
- Flatulence (gas)
- Shifted circadian rhythm (inability to sleep on a normal schedule)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Weak immune system
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Grinding teeth while sleeping
- ...and many more.
“In adults, overexposure to lead may cause high blood pressure and damage to the reproductive organs. Additional symptoms may include fever, headaches, fatigue, sluggishness (letheragy), vomiting, loss of appetite (anorexia), abdominal pain, constipation, joint pain, loss of recently acquired skills, incoordination, listlessness, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), irritability, altered consciousness, hallucinations, and/or seizures. In addition, affected individuals may experience low levels of iron in the red blood cells (anemia), peripheral neuropathy, and, in some cases, brain damage (encephalopathy). Some affected individuals experience decreased muscle strength and endurance; kidney disease; wrist drop; and behavioral changes such as hostility, depression, and/or anxiety. In some cases, symptoms may be life-threatening.”2
The poisoning symptoms for other common heavy metal exposures can be found at the Heavy Metal Poisoning article by the National Organization for Rare Disorders.
Heavy metal exposure is a serious problem. It's effects and aftereffects can seriously injure, debilitate, cause chronic disease, lower quality of life and productiveness, and is the cause of much suffering today.
Stay tuned for a full series of posts about what you can do about heavy metal exposure, and how to heal if you've already been exposed.