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Mercury Health Check

Mercury Health Checks

Mercury poisoning - identified at intervals throughout modern history - remains topical today. The term 'mad as a hatter' has its origins in the association noted between milliners and madness, who in the course of manufacture of felt hats in the 18th and 19th centuries, were exposed to mercury containing compounds - often with disastrous consequences. The literature is full of examples of small and large scale industrial incidents that have resulted in mercury poisoning over the centuries. And more recently, various camps have suggested that mercury amalgam used in fillings has the potential to cause poisoning - although this hypothesis has minority support. Similarly, there is a continuing suspicion amongst some that vaccination with mercury based vaccines (those containing thiomersal) is associated with the development of autism, but again there is little evidence supporting a causal link. Mercury poisoning is no longer common but it does still occur- the key to successful diagnosis within a health screening is to be mindful of the likelihood of an individual's encountering mercury compounds when suspicious symptoms develop.


So what would you feel like if you were being posioned by mercury? Mercury can interfere with the body's process for eliminating adrenaline like substances - so symptoms will include sweating, salivation, raised heart rate and blood pressure. Tingling, itching or burning skin may be experienced. Sometimes the skin will appear more pink, and may even be shed from some parts. Psychiatric symptoms may develop - emotional, irrational behaviour - and poor sleep. In the longer run, the kidneys may fail, or teeth and hair may fall out.


Remember - many other illnesses can present with some or all of the symptoms listed. The key is the history - as with any medical puzzle - what has the individual been exposed to recently, or what is the chance of his or her encountering significant amounts of mercury?


One scenario that may not be appreciated by many is that one food source considered to be a particularly healthy option presents a real hazard. Fish such as tuna or salmon, commonly consumed in the UK of course, may contain significant levels of mercury. This is an even bigger potential concern in nations where whale or dolphin meat are consumed. A recent study in Japan revealed that samples of whale meat contained levels of mercury 20 times the accepted standard.


So - if there is strong likelihood of mercury poisoning, blood testing should be undertaken. It is important to remember that recent consumption with fish may lead to an independent elevation in the level - it is best to avoid eating fish for 5 days before taking the test therefore. Treatment is successful if undertaken quickly - but a delay in treatment may lead to serious and possibly irreversible complications.
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Other Blood Testing Services by Blue Horizon Medicals.
All of the services outlined above rely on the postal service not just to send the kits to you, but also to get your blood back to the Laboratory.This is fine for the majority of tests on this website but sometimes a test that you require will have special handling requirements such as freezing, a need to be spun down by a centrifuge, or have a need for immediate testing. In these situations, and also where turnaround time cannot be reliant on the postal service we recommend that you speak to us about the other services that we can offer you. For speed we recommend our London Service, but we have some good profiles available through 60 Spire and BMI Hospitals across the UK.