Arsenic Poisoning - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of arsenic poisoning?

People can be exposed to arsenic by inhaling it, by consuming contaminated foods, water, or beverages, or by skin contact. We are normally exposed to trace amounts of arsenic in the air and water, and in foods. People may be exposed to higher levels if they live near industrial areas that currently or formerly contained arsenic compounds. Areas with known high concentrations of arsenic in the drinking water are also associated with greater exposure.

Acute or immediate symptoms of a toxic level of exposure to arsenic may include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark urine (termed black water urine)
  • Dehydration
  • Cardiac problems
  • Hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells)
  • Vertigo
  • Delirium
  • Shock
  • Death

Long-term exposures to aresenic lower than toxic levels can lead to skin changes (darkening or discoloration, redness, swelling and hyperkeratosis (skin bumps that resemble corns or warts). Whitish lines (Mees' lines) may appear in the fingernails. Both sensory and motor nerve defects can develop. Additionally, liver and kidney function may be affected.

Arsenic exposure over the long-term has also been associated with the development of certain cancers, and arsenic has been classified as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Studies of people in parts of Southeast Asia and South America where there has been a high level of arsenic in the drinking water have reported an increased risk of developing cancers of the bladder, kidney, lung, and skin. Organic arsenic compounds are not as toxic as inorganic compounds and are not believed to be linked to cancer.

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Comment from: Roxy, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 28

I rented a chair in a salon from a woman with antisocial personality disorder, who I believe was putting arsenic in my lunch. I would leave it in the refrigerator at work. There were no mice or rats only this big thing of arsenic under the sink next to the refrigerator. After lunch, I experienced vomiting, the runs, vertigo, sweats, etc. I gave notice after someone put acid in my facial toner. I went to the doctor because one tiny zit swelled up the size of a ping pong ball, opened up and bled, (and has scarred me for life). The doctor told me that the police wouldn't do anything because there were no witnesses and to basically get out of there as fast as I can. I gave notice and left.

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