Heavy metal poisoning

How is heavy metal poisoning diagnosed?

Diagnosing heavy metal poisoning can be difficult, as it relies on having a known exposure and positive results on approved tests. Heavy metal poisoning is often first suspected based on a patient's history and/or symptoms consistent with excessive exposure.

The following tests may help make the diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity, or help determine how severe the exposure is:

Testing is available in panels (where multiple exposures are tested) or by individual metal. The testing performed depends on the person's symptoms and suspected exposure. Metals more commonly tested for include lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and chromium. Metals less commonly tested for include aluminum, beryllium, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, platinum, selenium, silicon, silver, and thallium.

For further information on testing for heavy metal poisoning, visit Lab Tests Online, a website developed by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.

To view a list of conditions with signs symptoms that overlap with those of heavy metal poisoning, visit Medscape's website.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Where To Start

Heavy metal poisoning

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry offers a Toxic Substances Portal where you can learn more about risk levels and health effects of heavy metals. Click on the link above to view the portal.

Last updated on 04-27-20


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