2.1 Symptoms in chronic inorganic Hg-intoxication.

The heavy, mostly occupational, chronic inorganic mercury intoxication has been described as having a triad of symptoms:

  • 1) Tremor (or more wide: neurological symptoms)
  • 2) Gingivitis / stomatisis (or more wide: local oral symptoms)
  • 3) Erethismus (or more wide: psychiatric symptoms)

Tremor and gingivitis are not always present and usually not in milder forms. Tremor can cause alteration of the handwriting. The tremor is usually an intentional tremor. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gingiva (gum).

The Erethismus (from Greek; excite) is a pathologically increased excitability. Erethism is usually the first symptom to develop. It goes along with some or many of the following symptoms;

  • irritability,
  • outbursts of temper,
  • stress intolerance,
  • decreased simultaneous capacity,
  • increased sensitivity to sounds and light,
  • resentment of criticism,
  • loss of self-confidence,
  • timidity,
  • excessive shyness,
  • embarrassment with insufficient reason,
  • self-consciousness,
  • anxiety,
  • indecision,
  • insomnia,
  • vivid dreams,
  • lack of concentration,
  • memory loss,
  • depression,
  • fatigue...
all these together can cause a complete change of personality

The memory loss could be disabling:

"memory loss such that young mothers would forget to retrieve children from baby-sitters on the way home from work... Non-verbal memory tested by facial recognition was no better than chance" (Vroom 1972).

Other symptoms may include: headache, unsteady gait, numbness and pain in the extremities, muscular weakness, paraesthesias, drowsiness, slurring of words, slight stammering, difficulty in pronunciation of words, oedema, metallic taste, loosened teeth, increased salivation, loss of weight, hair loss, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, other gastrointestinal disturbances, difficulty in breathing...

(Buckell 1946, Elihu 1982, Mantyla 1976, McNerney 1979, Ronnback 1992, WHO 1991, Vroom 1972).

Depending on what reports / journals / books you read, you may find even other symptoms described (for example visual disturbances (Smith 1978) and loss of motor control (Smith 1978))...

2.1.1 Symptoms are typically non-specific.

"The symptoms of mercury poisoning from chronic inhalation develop gradually and thus may be difficult to notice. With the exception of tremor, the symptoms may be ignored by the victim or attributed to other causes" (McNerney 1979).
"it is impossible to distinguish early erethism from shyness or anxiety neurosis" (Buckell 1946).
"The effects of inorganic mercury on the nervous system are non-specific in that they can be induced by a wide range of mechanisms" (NIH 1992)

2.1.2 No obligatory symptom exists.

No specific (or non-specific) symptom has to be present in order to diagnose a Hg-intoxication.

2.1.3 A multi-symptomatic appearance is normal.

The Hg-intoxicated patient is not hypochondriac, it is a Hg-feature to cause a multi-symptomatic illness. One could even say that if a person only has one symptom it is not likely to be mercury-related.

2.2 Symptoms of acute inorganic Hg-intoxication.

"Acute inhalation exposure to mercury vapour may be followed by chest pains, dyspnoea, coughing, haemoptysis, and sometimes interstitial pneumonitis leading to death... Subacute exposure has given rise to psychotic reactions characterized by delirium, hallucinations, and suicidal tendency." (WHO 1991).

(Haemoptysis = coughing up blood from the lower respiratory tract.)

2.3 Symptoms of Acrodynia.

Acrodynia (acro- Latin for: tip / peak, -dynia Greek for pain) even named Pink Disease is a form of chronic Hg-intoxication. The names Acrodynia / Pink Disease point in the direction of something specific and almost obligatory in this form of Hg-intoxication; pink peeling skin and extreme pain at / in distal extremities. A profuse sweating is a common symptom. Other symptoms can be: low-grade intermittent fever as well as hypertonia and tachycardia. Any of the symptoms descirbed in chronic mercury intoxication above (Section 2.1) can be present. It seems to mainly affect younger children, but can affect adults as well. There is almost always a high urine mercury level present, however Cloarec (1995) reported normal urinary mercury levels in a 3 year old child with acrodynia and von Mühlendahl (1990) reported another case of acrodynia with normal urinary mercury levels (6.9 ug Hg / l), in a 20 month old girl. No simple dose-effect-connection in Acrodynia has been established. Only a minority of those exposed to mercury from different mercury-containing medicaments, as teething powder, got affected - a fact that made it hard to track down its causation. It was described 1914 (or even earlier), but not until 1948 was it suggested to be caused by chronic mercury poisoning (Dathan 1965). (Aronow 1990, WHO 1991)

2.4 Symptoms in suspected amalgam-related illness.

As in a Hg-intoxication, the multi-symptomatic picture is the main characteristic in suspected (non-allergic-) amalgam-related illness.

Also make sure to read these books: Poison in Your Teeth: Mercury Amalgam (Silver) Fillings...Hazardous to Your Health! and Mercury Detoxification by Tom McGuire