Q. What are the symptoms of mercury toxicity?

Answered by
Dr. Aida Abaz Quka
and medically reviewed by Dr. Divya Banu M
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 17, 2020

Hello doctor,

I have multiple questions. Recently, I might have been exposed to mercury vapor in a hotel room I was sleeping in for around 6-10 hours the room was small and the type of mercury was unknown. I remember the one type of chemichal was clear liquid watery substance and the other onces was more clay grey wich dissolved in water. I left the room around 6-10 hours later and did not touch anything but I might have breathed in the vapors in this small room. I also washed away the crystals that has landed on the carpet. All of these substances I have no clue about what was, except when I asked I was told mercury. 3.5 months later I got a pins and needles feeling in arms and feet wich has lasted a month, but no other symptoms until now I feel like I have some kind of internal vibration in my feet and my knees are shaking when I stand up like I am freezing or have done a hard workout from time to time. I went to the doctor in my area and told him about what had happend and showed him pictures of the various substances and I took a urine test and a blood test and this was made around 130 days after possible initial exsposure and the test came back at normal levels, but can it be that I had a toxic exsposure and the mercury has already settled in organs and therefore do not show in blood or urine I am not sure about the half life times in these metals or can I settle down and accept the test results are final and that mercury levels do indeed declear that I have not had an exsposure of toxic levels and that my symptoms might be of other cause?

2. If not number one is the cause then, a few months before that, I got an acute pins and needles feeling in hands and feet (paresthesia) which continued untill today and it increased over the one month before it stabilized a little, it went from pins and burning sensations different parts of the hands, and pins feeling in the legs. A few times I got shooting pain from a finger and up my arm but very rarely which has not returned. After alcohol consumption one weekend it went from stabilized to worse and I also noticed my knees shakes a little when I stand still but not when I am walking, the feeling can be compared to when you are freezing or after a hard workout on your feet. It started with a sensation under my feet like I was standing on a vibrating phone and then moved up to my calves which felt like they were bubbling inside and now my knees which shake when I stand, but the vibration under the feet is gone. My hands also one week felt like they was shocked and they turned red and stiff, the kind of feel like I put my hands down in hot water and then removed them, red spots on my hands underneath the skin appeared and the closest thing i found resembeling it was purpura when I looked up causes online, my hands are much better now but it still feels like some areas are "sunburnt" and my fingertips are peeling, but I think that is because of winter and dry weather (the red spots remains) I have taken multiple blood test for vitamins deficency and other things which turned out normal besides vitamin D which was a little to low and neurolgical test like standing on one foot with eyes closed and finger pointing and sensation test of sharp/cold/hot which all was normal. I am taking a MRI next month to check for MS and other conditions. Sorry for making this text so unclear and poorly written but I have no idea of what this might be. So Doctor do you have any ideas about what this can be?



Welcome to

I read carefully your question and would explain that your symptoms are not typical of mercury intoxication. Anyway, I would recommend performing nerve conduction to in order to examine your nerves and a brain MRI in order to examine your brain. As the neurological exam is normal, I do not think it the brain MRI will result abnormal. A cervical spine MRI may be necessary too, in order to exclude possible spinal cord compression in this region, due to a bulging disc.

Hi doctor,

Thank you. It is a relief to hear that mercury intoxication might not be the cause even though I now read that in few cases there is a latent period before symptoms show up and that paresthesia is one of the first once to show up, I calm myself in that the test results show normal levels and I would belive that if a toxic exposure was indeed that at least the results would show an elevated level and not normal ones. I will take an MRI like you recommend and I hope I find the answers then. I also looked into vitamin D deficiency like I have and I see that there can be symptoms like this because of the deficiency I am also going to check for calcium levels to see if levels are normal or not , do you think hypocalcemia can be a possible cause for these symptoms if results show up to low?



Welcome back to

I do not think that the paresthesia are related to mercury intoxication as other symptoms would be present as well. Regarding vitamin D deficiency it can mimic this clinical situation. Low calcium levels too, but they are more associated to involuntary shaking or muscle spasms. Anyway checking calcium plasma levels is necessary too.

I would also recommend performing a brain and cervical spine MRI in order to exclude any possible brain lesions or cervical spine lesions.

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