Elemental mercury is usually only harmful when inhaled and is usually harmless when touched or swallowed. Patients with acute toxicity may present with fever, fatigue, and pneumonitis. The classic triad of chronic toxicity is neuropsychiatric disturbances, tremor, and gingivostomatitis. Depending on the severity of elemental mercury inhalation, lung or brain damage or death may occur. Treatment for inhaled elemental mercury poisoning depends on the individual case and includes humidified oxygen or air, breathing tube use, suctioning of mercury out of the lungs, and medication to remove mercury from the body.
Inorganic mercury is typically poisonous when ingested. Symptoms may include burning in the stomach or throat, or diarrhea and vomiting (both which can be bloody). Depending on the severity of ingestion, kidney or brain damage, kidney failure, blood and fluid loss, or death may occur. Patients may develop nervous system, skin, or renal manifestations, and/or neuropsychiatric issues. Treatment for ingested inorganic mercury poisoning is supportive and may include intravenous fluids, activated charcoal, and chelators.
Organic mercury is harmful when inhaled, ingested (most common route), or absorbed through the skin. Being exposed to organic mercury for a chronic period of time may result in paresthesia, headaches, ataxia, painful skin sensations, dysarthria, visual or memory impairment, and seizures or death in severe exposures. Treatment consists of chelators typically given to the patient over a period of weeks to months.
T56.1X1A – Toxic effect of mercury and its compounds, accidental (unintentional), initial encounter
8518002 – Toxic effect of mercury AND/OR its compounds