How do you treat heavy metal poisoning

Heavy metal poisoning

1 definition

A Heavy metal poisoning is poisoning caused by the ingestion of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, thallium or polonium.

2 background

The term "heavy metal" is not clearly defined in chemistry. As a rule, this includes all base metals with a density of more than 5 g / cm³. These heavy metals include some metals that are essential for humans in small amounts as trace elements, such as iron or copper.

3 examples

Heavy metal poisoning includes:

Arsenic is a semi-metal, but arsenic poisoning can also be counted as heavy metal poisoning in a broader sense.

4 toxicology

The pathomechanism of heavy metal poisoning depends on the triggering agent. In many cases, however, the toxic effect of heavy metals is due to their ability to form complexes with proteins. Heavy metals react with functional groups such as -SH, -OH, -COOH or NH2 and thus impair the function of many proteins. In addition, they can displace other cations from the catalytic center of enzymes.

5 symptoms

The symptoms of heavy metal poisoning can vary greatly, depending on the metal responsible, as many heavy metals have a different organotropy that is characteristic of them. This organotropy usually determines the clinical picture. Thallium, for example, accumulates in the heart's excitation system and thus leads to cardiac arrhythmias. Iron is deposited in the kidneys and liver and causes organ damage here.

6 therapy

In the treatment of heavy metal poisoning, the focus is on chelating agents (e.g. deferoxamine), which bind heavy metal ions and are then eliminated from the body together with them.