Are You Toxic? Heavy Metal Toxicity and How You Can Reverse It

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Humans are exposed to heavy metals through a mixture of our environment and diets every day. For example, industrial chemicals at work, pollution, dental fillings, batteries, and eating fish or drinking apple juice can expose us to heavy metals. Humans need some metals, such as iron, to maintain our health. However, excessive exposure to heavy metals can be problematic.
What is heavy metal toxicity?
We have heavy metal toxicity when our body’s soft tissue absorbs and collects too much of the heavy metals we are exposed to. But they are not always dangerous to us at negligible levels—instead, the overloading and accumulation of them in our bodies causes toxicity. Common heavy metals associated with toxicity are lead, iron, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium.
How Are We Exposed?
Most heavy metal toxicity exposure happens through industrial exposure, air and water pollution, our food sources, medicines, coatings on our food containers and cookware, ingesting or inhaling lead paint particles, and ingesting or inhaling pesticides/herbicides/insecticides. Luckily, safety regulations are in place in most instances to minimize your exposure. However, faulty safety equipment, aging and failing water pipes, and dishonest corporations put us at risk daily, so it is important to know the symptoms and treatment options available.
What are the Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity?
Often, symptoms of heavy metal toxicity depend on the metal to which you were exposed. Cases can be either acute or chronic, depending on the length of exposure. Common symptoms include:
  • Passing out
  • Numbness
  • Confusing and cognitive issues
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Tingling in hands, fingers, and feet
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Bone deformities- especially in children with chronic exposure
  • Horizontal lines on fingernails
  • Miscarriage
How Can I Be Diagnosed?
First, it is important to know your risk of exposure to heavy metals. If you suspect you are having symptoms of heavy metal toxicity, talk to your provider and let them know how and what kinds of exposure, especially industrial, you may have experienced. Testing for heavy metals has not always been routine. However, with more light being shed on toxicity, several companies now offer at-home heavy metal testing. In addition to at-home tests, several small labs now offer walk-in testing. Newer testing runs several different tests on one blood or urine sample. For example, tests might include a CBC (complete blood count), as well as tests on the kidney, urine, and liver. In addition to these lab tests, an abdominal radiograph and an electrocardiogram may also be used to diagnose heavy metal toxicity.
Treatment Options
In mild cases of heavy metal poisoning, eliminating the exposure or changing one’s diet is all that is required. You can support your body by supplementation that aids your body’s natural detoxification processes. In more severe cases, chelation therapy is the go-to protocol. Chelation therapy uses medicines or substances that bind to the heavy metals in your system and help your body eliminate them through waste. In severe acute cases, emergency professionals may need to pump your stomach to get the toxic metals out of your system before they can do further damage.
Left untreated, heavy metal toxicity can be serious and cause many long-term health issues. If you are concerned about your heavy metal exposure and want to know more about possible heavy metal detox programs, talk to your naturopath, chiropractor, or functional medicine doctor to see what might be the best option for you!
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