Poisoning with salts of heavy metals
In nature there are about forty chemical elements called heavy metals. They surround us everywhere: they are contained in soil, water, air, they are used in everyday life. Some of them in the form of microelements are present in living organisms and plants, participate in all metabolic processes.
In small quantities and with proper use, heavy metals are beneficial. But with excessive accumulation in tissues, when foreign elements enter the body, symptoms of poisoning with heavy metals appear. So let's get acquainted with the most dangerous of them, with the effect that salts of heavy metals have on a man, we learn how to recognize poisoning and provide first aid, what treatment is being administered.
Which metals are dangerous
The most toxic metals are:
Most often, poisoning occurs in industrial plants in emergency situations. The reason for intoxication can also serve means aimed at the destruction of rodents, insects, weeds. Contain heavy metals:
- in medicinal preparations;
- tobacco smoke;
- exhaust gases;
- oil products;
- in some types of dishes and containers (tin cans);
- Foods can be infected.
The poisoning with salts of heavy metals occurs when toxin enters the digestive system, when the vapor is inhaled, through the mucous membranes and skin. The nervous system, kidneys, intestines, liver, endocrine organs, heart and blood vessels are affected. In addition to toxic effects, heavy metals have a local cauterizing and irritating effect. Toxins can accumulate in the kidneys, liver, and lead in the bones. Therefore, they circulate for a long time in the body, gradually evolving into the blood from their depots, leading to a chronic process.
Symptoms of heavy metal poisoning
Acute poisoning with salts of heavy metals has a similar symptomatology when any of these elements enter the body. Most often, the poison penetrates through the digestive system. The following complaints appear:
- the taste of metal in the mouth;
- hyperemia of the mucous membrane of the mouth and throat;
- pain caused by swallowing;
- painful sensations along the esophagus;
- stomach ache;
- constipation (with lead poisoning) or loose stool;
- bleeding, the source of which can serve: esophagus, stomach and intestines;
- ulcers and erosion of the mucous membrane of the mouth, esophagus, stomach.
When lead and mercury poisoning on the gums appears dark rim, teeth are loosened, there are pains in the oral cavity, bleeding gums, excessive production of saliva, enlarged submandibular lymph nodes.
Vomit with a bluish tinge appears if there is copper in the body.
When heavy metals are poisoned, symptoms of damage to other organs and systems also appear.
- The cardiovascular system reacts with fluctuations in blood pressure: the increase is replaced by a sharp drop. There is shortness of breath, cyanosis or flushing of the face with concomitant pallor of other parts of the body. When lead poisoning develops a bradycardia.
- The defeat of the nervous system is indicated by a disturbance of consciousness: euphoria with psychomotor agitation, disorientation, stunning, sopor and coma. Appear: convulsions, paralysis, including the respiratory center, hallucinations, insomnia, unsteadiness of gait, impaired coordination of movement.
- With kidney damage, nephropathy develops, which can be complicated by acute renal failure. In this case, the excretory function suffers: urine is formed little, there is no periodic excretion. Later the amount of urine increases. When tested in urine, a protein is detected. In the blood, the level of creatinine and urea increases. When poisoning with thallium, urine acquires a green color.
- When the liver tissue is damaged, the liver is enlarged. The main changes are detected with a biochemical blood test (high ALT, AST).
- Visual disorders: double vision, decreased vision.
- Other symptoms of poisoning: fever, with lead poisoning - hypothermia. In the blood hemolysis (excessive destruction of erythrocytes), anemia, an increase in the number of leukocytes, accelerated ESR (the rate of erythrocyte sedimentation) is observed.
- In severe cases, exotoxic shock and death develop.
When inhaling vapors, complaints of cough, mostly dry, appear on the first place, spontaneous appearance of blood, fever, pneumonia and pulmonary edema.
If the poison enters the body by contact (through the skin), for example, when poisoning with mercury ointment - develops toxic dermatitis. In the place of application there is itching, papular-petechial rash, folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles), hyperthermia. After a while, general toxic effects are manifested as a result of the absorption of poison and its entry into the blood.
Thallium poisoning is characterized by sensitive disorders, muscle weakness (especially in the limbs), hair loss.
A feature of chromium poisoning is the perforation (through hole) of the cartilage of the nasal septum.
When heavy metals are poisoned, the diagnosis is based on history data (under what conditions a poisoning occurred), the clinical picture, its characteristics, the data of instrumental and laboratory methods of investigation.
First aid for poisoning with salts of heavy metals
To provide first aid for poisoning with salts of heavy metals, the following measures are necessary.
- If the poison is ingested by inhalation, take the victim out of the danger zone.
- In case of contact, rinse the affected area of the skin.
- If the poison has got into the digestive system - it is necessary to wash the stomach. Self-conduct of this procedure is not recommended, especially if you get into the digestive system of poison, which has a cauterizing effect. It is necessary to use a probe. At the beginning of the rinse and at the end of the procedure, a 5% solution of Unithiol (up to 300 ml) is injected through the probe. When lead poisoning is preferred, 2% solution of soda is preferred. You can use saline solution.
- It is necessary to give the victim a laxative: Vaseline or castor oil.
In all cases, the victim is to be admitted to the toxicology department.
Treatment for poisoning with heavy metals
Further treatment of poisoning with heavy metals is carried out in a hospital.
- Forced diuresis: the introduction of significant volumes of fluid and drugs that have a diuretic effect. The purpose of the procedure is to quickly remove the poison from the body, prevent acute renal failure and liver damage.
- Introduction of antidotes: EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) in case of lead poisoning, Unithiol and sodium thiosulfate.
- Symptomatic therapy consists in maintaining the basic functions of the body for the prevention and treatment of exotoxic shock: analgesics, including narcotic, antispasmodics, infusion therapy, glucocorticoids.
- For the treatment of burns, enveloping drugs and antibiotics are used.
- Treatment of toxic liver damage: vitamins, hepatoprotectors.
- If necessary, purify the blood with hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.
Treatment takes from 10-18 days with light and moderate poisoning, up to one and a half months - in the severe condition of the victim. The rehabilitation period takes a long time. The function of the kidneys, liver and nervous system, may not be fully restored before the end.
In conclusion, I want to note that the possibility of poisoning with heavy metals must be treated very seriously. Chronic forms of intoxication are becoming more frequent. This can be an occupational disease in people working in harmful conditions. But, perhaps, the development of both acute and chronic poisoning in any person in the most ordinary situations. Especially take care of children!