Zinc is an essential vitamin necessary for prostate health, immune system strength, and even skin health. Zinc-rich foods such as oysters, beef, and even pumpkin seeds are an important part of any diet. But if a person consumes too much of it, either from zinc-rich foods, vitamin supplements, or the accidental ingestion of industrial agents, it can cause zinc poisoning.
If poisoning is suspected, check for these symptoms. Seek medical help immediately by calling 911 or 1-800-222-1222, the National Poison Control Center Hotline. Do not allow the symptoms to progress—it can quickly lead to organ damage and death if left untreated.
Symptoms of Zinc Poisoning
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these are several common symptoms of zinc poisoning. If any of these symptoms are experienced, get medical attention immediately. It can quickly become fatal if left untreated.
Symptom #1: Painful burning sensations in all parts of the body. The burning sensations are sometimes accompanied by chills, a fever, or rashes all over the body. It may make it difficult for the person to breathe. Although it sometimes occurs in the extremities, such as the fingertips or the toes, it can also occur in the chest, face, or other parts of the body.
Symptom #2: Coughing. The coughing should be persistent, sometimes causing shortness of breath. Zinc poisoning makes it difficult for the person to breathe correctly.
Symptom #3: Convulsions or seizures. The symptoms vary, but convulsions caused by zinc poisoning cause a loss of consciousness, hallucinations, muscle twitching or involuntary movements, muscle tension, and shaking of the entire body. According to the NIH, this can last for five to 15 minutes. If this occurs, do not forcefully hold down the person while it occurs. Allow the seizure to progress normally.
Symptom #4: Nausea or vomiting. It usually occurs suddenly, without warning.
Symptom #5: Bloody or watery diarrhea. It may be accompanied by severe stomach pains or nausea. There may be a little or a lot of blood present, ranging from bright red to dark, almost blackish red.
Symptom #6: Fainting. This is caused by a sudden dip in blood pressure, increasing the risk for fainting. The person may look pale, nauseated, or weak immediately before it occurs. If the person begins displaying these symptoms, have the person sit or lie down to prevent injury.
Symptom #7: Shock. Zinc poisoning can also interfere with the blood vessels, affecting its blood flow and causing the body to go into shock. Symptoms of shock include dizziness, excessive sweating, difficulty breathing, chest pain, the inability to urinate, confuse, anxiety, and blue colored lips and fingernails. If this occurs, call 911 immediately and make sure the person is breathing. If not, administer CPR.
Again, if any of these symptoms of zinc poisoning are experienced at any time after eating zinc-rich foods, supplements, or other agents, call 911 or the National Poison Control Center Hotline. Zinc poisoning is easier to treat—and recover from—if the person receives immediate medical help. Waiting too long can result in death.