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Mercuric oxide poisoning

 

Mercuric oxide is a form of mercury. It is a type of mercury salt. There are different types of mercury poisonings. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing mercuric oxide.

This article is for information only. Do NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

Mercuric oxide

Where Found

 

Mercuric oxide may be found in some:

  • Button batteries (batteries containing mercury are no longer sold in the United States)
  • Disinfectants
  • Fungicides

There have been reports of inorganic mercury poisoning from the use of skin-lightening creams.

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.

 

Symptoms

 

Symptoms of mercuric oxide poisoning include:

  • Abdominal pain (severe)
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Decreased urine output (may stop completely)
  • Drooling
  • Extreme difficulty breathing
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Mouth sores
  • Throat swelling (swelling may cause throat to close)
  • Shock
  • Vomiting

 

Home Care

 

Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional. If clothing is contaminated with the poison, try to safely remove it while protecting yourself from contact with the poison.

 

Before Calling Emergency

 

The following information is helpful for emergency assistance:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition (for example, is the person awake or alert?)
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.

 

Poison Control

 

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

 

The health care provider will measure and monitor vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:

  • Airway support, including oxygen, breathing tube through the mouth (intubation), and breathing machine (ventilator)
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Camera down the throat (endoscopy) to see burns in the food pipe (esophagus) and stomach
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Fluids through a vein (intravenous or IV)
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Medicines called chelators that remove mercury from the bloodstream, which may reduce long-term injury

Any person who swallowed a battery will need immediate x-rays to make sure the battery is not stuck in the esophagus. Most swallowed batteries that pass through the esophagus will pass out of the body in the stool without complication. However, batteries stuck in the esophagus can cause a hole in the esophagus very quickly. It is very important to seek immediate medical help after a battery is swallowed.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

How well a person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery. Mercuric oxide poisoning can lead to organ failure and death.

 

 

References

Goldfrank LR, ed. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2006.

Rusyniak DE, Arroyo A, Froberg B, Furbee B. Heavy metals. In: Vincent J-L, et al, eds. Textbook of Critical Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 178.

 

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Mercuric oxide poisoning

           

             

            Review Date: 1/13/2015

            Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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