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Patient talking with functional medicine doctor about heavy metal toxicity symptoms

10 Heavy Metal Toxicity Symptoms and What to do If You’ve Been Exposed

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Like anything else, having too much of something can harm your mind and body. And although the human body naturally contains some metals necessary for survival, exposure to high amounts of certain metals can be toxic and cause chronic and acute symptoms.

The symptoms of heavy metal toxicity can often have similar symptoms to other health conditions, making it difficult to diagnose. However, there are ways to tell when you’ve been exposed to heavy metals. Here’s a guide on ten heavy metal toxicity symptoms and what to do if you’ve been exposed.

What Is Heavy Metal Toxicity?

Heavy metal toxicity/ poisoning is the accumulation of heavy metals in toxic amounts in the body’s soft tissues. These metals can be found in the soil and the air. Humans are becoming more exposed to these metals due to drinking water, food crops contaminated with industrial metals, agriculture, domestic and technological applications, and older homes.

When someone is being exposed to heavy metals regularly in low amounts or acute high exposure, this can lead to heavy metal toxicity. The heavy metals that are harmful to humans include:

  • Mercury– found in seafood, certain cosmetics, metal dental amalgams (fillings), and some vaccines (not used for children)
  • Lead– found in lead pipes and lead paint in older homes
  • Cadmium– found in soil, water, contaminated foods such as rice and grains, and smoking
  • Arsenic– found in contaminated food and water
  • Thallium– found in industrial settings with coal combustion, exhaust fumes, and semiconductor manufacturing
  • Chromium– found in food, water, and products containing chromium

Not all heavy metals are bad, as some are used within your body to function, such as cobalt, copper, magnesium, selenium, iron, and zinc. Even some chromium in safe levels is needed for the body.

Your body can typically handle mild exposures without having health risks, as your body can typically clear out the toxins. However, exposure to these toxic metals in high doses or small doses over longer periods is bad.

What Are Heavy Metal Toxicity Symptoms?

Symptoms of Heavy Metal Toxicity Infographic

Some of the symptoms of metal toxicity can align with other health conditions and make it difficult to diagnose. It’s important to be proactive and see a functional medicine doctor to get to the root of your symptoms and identify if metal toxicity could be contributing to a chronic problem you’re experiencing.

The most common symptoms of metal toxicity include:

  • Stomach pain and gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Brain fog, memory loss, and confusion
  • Fatigue
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Mood and behavior changes, including depression and anxiety
  • Joint pain
  • Autoimmunity
  • Nausea
  • Tingling in hands and feet

As those symptoms are common among other health conditions, you may not know that you have heavy metal toxicity. However, if you have been in areas where you know that heavy metals are in use, make sure to bring that up with your functional medicine doctor.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms and believe you have been exposed to heavy metals, you should seek help quickly. The metals can affect your brain and your body; this can cause a wide range of physical and neurological symptoms. This can cause functionality problems and put you at risk for other health conditions.

Curious About Functional Medicine? Learn More: How is Functional Medicine Different Than Conventional Medicine?

How to Diagnose Metal Toxicity

So you may wonder, if the symptoms closely align with other health conditions, how can you tell when it is heavy metal toxicity? There are a few things that you should consider consisting of:

  • You’re experiencing persistent brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, depression, or other symptoms associated with heavy metal toxicity
  • You have risk factors for heavy metal toxicity, such as living in an older home with lead exposure
  • Your symptoms have not improved after addressing your diet, lifestyle, gut health, thyroid health, and other possible causes

Analyzing these factors can help you determine if heavy metal toxicity is the root cause of your problems. You may have specific symptoms that vary, but brain fog, fatigue, depression, or anxiety are typically symptoms that don’t improve with other treatments.

Since heavy metal toxicity is so rare, other root causes such as gut imbalance, hormonal imbalance, thyroid issues, or even environmental exposure to mold toxicity are typically analyzed first. However, many functional medicine doctors, including Dr. Radawi, will check for heavy metal poisoning with a simple blood test or a provoked urine test when toxicity is suspected.

Some tests that you may do include:

  • Kidney function tests
  • Liver function studies
  • Urine analysis
  • Hair analysis
  • Fingernail analysis
  • Electrocardiograms
  • X-rays

Once the tests have been done, it is easier for your functional medicine doctor to diagnose you with heavy metal toxicity and start your treatments as soon as possible.

How Can You Treat Heavy Metal Toxicity With Functional Medicine?

There are a few ways that you can treat heavy metal toxicity. For mild cases, eliminating heavy metals exposure can sometimes be enough to treat the condition. This can include avoiding eating certain foods or drinks and moving out of the environment.

Your doctor can also give you specific recommendations of what to do for particular symptoms that you’re experiencing. For severe cases, the standard treatment is chelation therapy as part of metal detox protocol. Through a pill or injection, the chelators bind to the heavy metals in your body and usher them out of your body as waste.

When you seek treatment from a functional medicine doctor, your treatment will also include promoting healthy habits of eating nutritious foods, sleeping for 7-8 hours a night, and doing physical exercise to name a few. It can seem intimidating if this isn’t your current lifestyle. However, your functional doctor can help you establish healthy habits that promote overall wellness and address the root cause of your symptoms.

Why Should You Choose Tri-Cities Functional Medicine?

Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves anyone seeking treatment in the Tri-Cities and nearby areas of Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, and beyond. Distance is not a factor for our team. Dr. Radawi leads our team, providing the best quality of functional medicine care to ensure you achieve your ultimate health goals.

Seeking care for heavy metal toxicity can be difficult. However, functional medicine can be the best option for you when you struggle to find a treatment that works. Don’t hesitate any longer. Your health and healing are waiting for you to begin.

Did your conventional medicine doctor not get to the root of your problems? Take the first step:

Watch our free webinar to learn about our approach to the health issues you are facing.

Schedule a Free Discovery Call to discuss your health concerns and goals to see if our practice is a good fit for you.

After your discovery call – if we are a good fit, you’ll schedule a consultation with our doctor to dive deeper and formulate an individualized treatment plan for you.

Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.