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What Are The Symptoms Of Heavy Metals In The Body?

heavy metals drug test

What are heavy metals?

Heavy metals are elements that can be naturally found in the earth. They are used in many modern-day applications like agriculture and medicines.

The human body naturally contains some heavy metals. Zinc, iron, and copper. All of which are necessary for the body to function correctionally.

Heavy metal poisoning occurs when the body’s soft tissues absorb too many heavy metals.

Common metals that can be absorbed in toxic amounts:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium

Coming in contact with high concentrations of things like food, air/water pollution, medicine, improperly coated food containers or lead-based pain can greatly increase your chances of poisoning.

Across the United States, heavy metal poisoning is very unlikely. Poisoning occurs when you’ve been exposed to a heavy amount of heavy metal over a long period of time.


Symptoms of heavy metals poisoning vary depending on each type of metal involved.

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tingling in feet or hands
  • Chills
  • Weakness

Children who have heavy metal poisoning can have unusually formed and weakened bones. Pregnant women may miscarry or deliver prematurely.

Metal-specific Symptoms

Let’s take a closer look at the symptoms linked to the most common types of heavy metals poisoning.

Mercury poisoning:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hearing and speech difficulties
  • Nerve damage in hands and face
  • Changes in vision
  • Trouble walking

Lead poisoning:

  • Constipation
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anemia
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of developmental skills in children

Arsenic poisoning:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Red/swollen skin
  • Spots on skin like warts and lesions
  • Unusual heart rhythm
  • Muscle cramps

Cadmium poisoning:

  • Fever
  • Breathing problems
  • Muscle pain

So what causes heavy metal poisoning?

Heavy metals enter the body in different ways. You can consume them in the food you eat or through your skin.


  • Working on or near a hazardous waste site
  • Living in an area with high levels in rocks, soil and water
  • Ingesting pesticides, herbicides or insecticides
  • Eating contaminated seafood
  • Drinking contaminated water


  • Working in an industrial setting
  • Welding on alloys with cadmium or silver solders
  • Inhaling cigarette smoke


  • Living in a home with lead-based paint
  • Industrial construction work, radiator repairs or smelter operations
  • Being in firing rangers
  • Using kohl cosmetics
  • Applying progressive hair dye
  • Using foreign digestive remedies and calcium products


  • Transporting, mining, or producing mercury
  • Mining/refining gold and silver
  • Consuming contaminated fish or water
  • Manufacturing mirrors or X-ray machines

It is important to remember that while anyone can develop heavy metal poisoning, children are the most susceptible.


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