What Does Mercury Do to Your Body?

Mercury can have devastating effects on kidneys, nerves and the cardiovascular system. Additionally, mercury exposure is toxic for lung health; pneumonia and pulmonary edema can result from prolonged exposure. Traditional Chinese and Indian herbal remedies contain mercury; also, some thermometers and blood pressure machines may expose people to it.

Fetuses and infants exposed to methylmercury before birth are particularly at risk from its exposure. Such babies may later exhibit developmental problems such as reduced intelligence.

It Damages the Brain

Mercury can be hazardous to the brain, nervous system, kidneys, digestive system and lungs. Mercury comes in both inorganic (metallic mercury) and organic forms (methylmercury). Both forms pose serious health threats – inorganic mercury can enter the bloodstream and attack kidneys directly; while organic mercury exposure could result in nausea, vomiting or diarrhea as well as skin irritations and even fatal illness or death.

Mercury that enters the body can quickly be absorbed by bloodstream and quickly reach the brain, where it may cause mental confusion, tremors, difficulty moving or speaking and vision changes. Furthermore, mercury poisoning may damage myelin sheath that protects axons that relay messages between brain and body.

Exposure to high levels of metallic mercury vapor can wreak havoc on the heart, lungs and intestines as well as kidneys and the central nervous system, with long-term or even permanent consequences if exposure occurs in utero or early childhood. Working with amalgam or eating too many fish containing methylmercury increases this risk; its effects can even become permanent over time.

Organic mercury exposure occurs when inhaled as vapor or consumed directly in its liquid state, either directly from its container or through inhaling vapors from certain chemicals like ethylmercury thiosalicylate (thimerosal), once used as a preservative in vaccines before it was discontinued due to reduced exposure limits.

People become exposed to mercury through eating contaminated fish. Some states, territories and tribes issue advisories regarding which types of fish may contain significant levels of mercury contamination. Furthermore, people living near mining or processing operations for mercury as well as working in industries that utilize mercury such as producing caustic soda and chlorine production or producing fluorescent lamps face greater risks.

An evaluation should be completed by a physician in cases where mercury poisoning may be taking place, with questions regarding symptoms, the source of discomfort and when symptoms first appeared. An organ damage test and blood and urine mercury levels measurement will also be carried out as part of this examination process.

It Damages the Kidneys

Mercury can be deadly if consumed, entering both your kidneys and lungs in large doses. Metallic or inorganic mercury contaminating fish, some seed grains used for human consumption and certain soil sources is toxic to human health and can contaminate lung airways when breathed in; overexposure may even result in lung damage and brain injury; kidney damage from inorganic mercury exposure usually takes time before becoming apparent, and is more often long-term rather than immediate.

Inorganic mercury can be extremely toxic when ingested through skin contact, posing risks to skin, eyes, lungs, kidneys and digestive tract health as well as entering bloodstream and attacking brain nerves directly. Even short term exposures of inorganic mercury may result in high fevers, vomiting diarrhea kidney failure death. While chronic exposures could lead to tremors dementia and memory loss.

Organic mercury, by comparison, can be much less hazardous when consumed. Once inhaled, its chemical constituents quickly enter cells and disrupt metabolism before being excreted through urine or feces from the body. People who regularly ingest methylmercury-contaminated seafood – such as populations in northern climates who rely on subsistence fishing for subsistence purposes – have been reported to experience severe neurologic problems.

Mercury poisoning symptoms can be quite severe and include fever, tremors, vomiting and weakness. Mercury can also damage heart tissue by interfering with thyroid function and inhibiting an enzyme that prevents low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation – making oxidized LDL an atherosclerosis risk since oxidized LDL contributes to plaque formation in arteries.

Doctors can detect mercury poisoning through an extensive medical history review and physical exam, along with questions regarding duration, severity and onset of symptoms. A blood test or metabolic panel will also be ordered to measure mercury levels; if these prove high then treatment could involve medications designed to remove mercury from organs while helping the body dispose of it (known as “chelation therapy”).

It Damages the Heart

Mercury is both poisonous and neurotoxin. It affects the central nervous system, resulting in symptoms including tremors, mood swings, irritability, slurred speech, pins-and-needles sensation and insomnia. Mercury can cross both blood-brain barrier, placental barrier and breast milk barriers; in high exposure doses kidney effects may even lead to respiratory failure and death.

Long-term exposure to organic mercury is fatal. Most often inhaled via inhalation or swallowing it or being exposed through skin absorption, mercury can damage kidneys, lungs and brain function as well as being absorbed through skin absorption. Exposure may occur from eating certain fish or working in industries using mercury (aerospace mining thermometers blood pressure machines); other sources include dental work containing mercury fillings; seafood from contamination; or vaccines containing thimerosal such as those for flu, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations.

Mercury can lead to numerous cardiovascular issues, including heart attack and stroke. It increases oxidative stress while simultaneously diminishing antioxidant defenses and encouraging atherosclerosis development. Mercury may also cause various vascular problems including thrombosis and carotid artery obstruction; mercury even blocks paraoxonase enzyme, essential in clearing away low-density lipoprotein from arterial walls.

Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that middle-aged men with elevated mercury levels in their bodies were 2.2 times more likely to have experienced a heart attack compared to those with lower mercury exposure levels. Researchers evaluated 51,529 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and 121,700 women from Nurses’ Health Study who provided past and present mercury exposure information and toenail and fat tissue samples that contained collected mercury from participants for further examination.

There is evidence of how organic mercury, specifically methyl mercury, can harm fetuses and children; however, less research has been conducted into elemental or metallic mercury’s effects. Elemental mercury is highly toxic when inhaled as vapor or consumed through ingestion; it kills quickly when breathed in or swallowed and has similar impacts on kidneys and lungs as inorganic mercury; its treatment usually includes taking medicines which remove it from the body to move it away from kidneys and lungs.

It Damages the Lungs

When someone breathes metallic mercury vapors or organic mercury from contaminated seafood, their lungs become severely compromised, often permanently. Other symptoms associated with mercury poisoning may include headaches, tremors and changes to vision (constriction of visual field).

Mercury can quickly reach the brain and kidneys when inhaled through breathing, damaging not only its receptor sites but also the nervous system and lungs of people of all ages – particularly unborn babies and young children who may be especially vulnerable. Long term mercury exposure also poses an increased risk to adult lung health; large doses over extended periods may cause damage.

Elemental mercury, the bright silver-white liquid found in thermometers and switches, can be extremely hazardous if inhaled because of its ability to pass directly from lungs into bloodstream. Overexposure can result in symptoms including tremors, memory loss and changes to vision.

Inorganic mercury poisoning has been shown to induce neuropsychological changes such as irritability and anxiety, as well as harming both heart and lungs. Long-term exposure may reduce myocardial force development while increasing vascular resistance – both indicators of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, mercury may inhibit enzymes involved in lipid metabolism such as hepatic lipase and acyltransferases that contribute to healthy metabolism of lipids.

Short-term exposure to elemental mercury vapors can damage lungs in males. H&E stained lung tissue sections from those exposed revealed severe inflammation, emphysema and alveolar dilatation with destruction of intra-alveolar septa – these findings being more pronounced among men exposed. Females had similar but less pronounced findings.

An exposure to elemental mercury vapors can produce numerous side effects, such as tremors, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting. Furthermore, rapid heart rates and low blood pressure may occur as a result; more serious cases could lead to brain and kidney damage and even death.

If a person suspects they have been exposed to mercury, he or she should immediately move away from any sources of exposure and seek medical care at a hospital. A physician will review history of exposure as well as conduct physical exam. Laboratory tests may also be ordered in order to measure levels of mercury in blood and urine samples; please visit ATSDR website for information about occupational and environmental health clinics that specialize in testing poisoning cases.

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