Toxic Injury - What You Need to Know

What is a Toxic Injury

Exposure to chemicals from consumer products, pharmaceuticals, industrial products, and the environment can cause toxic injuries.  Toxic injuries occur when chemicals or other toxins disturb the body’s normal functioning.  Poisons change the speed of body functions, increasing them (i.e., a faster heart rate) or decreasing them (i.e., slowed breathing).  Toxicity is the word used to describe negative effects of exposure to toxins.  These effects can range from minor (headaches, nausea) to several (coma, convulsions, death).  Toxicity is usually referred to according to whether it is due to short-term exposure—acute toxicity—or long-term exposure—chronic toxicity.  Poisons might affect a particular organ or bodily system, or they might have negative effects throughout the body.  If a toxin affects a particular organ or system, it will be referred to in relation to that organ.  Examples of toxicity categories are:  respiratory, gastrointestinal, renal, neurological, hematological, dermatological, and reproductive.  In addition to major problems with certain organs in the body, exposure to chemicals can also result in cancer and birth defects.

CLICK HERE – To learn more about common symptoms of toxic substances

Determining whether chemical exposure is the cause of an injury can be extremely difficult.  For example, symptoms of toxic exposure might be the same as symptoms of a common illness, such as the flu.  If the chemical is present in the sick person’s bloodstream at certain levels, this might help establish a chemical cause.  Symptoms of toxic injury include: irritation of the nose and throat, coughing, tight chest, difficult breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, back pain, changes in urination frequency, headache, dizziness, confusion, depression, coma, convulsions, anemia, fatigue, rashes, itching, swelling, infertility, and miscarriage.

The treatment of toxic injury varies according to the injury and the cause.  Below are explanations of injuries that result from several common causes of toxic injury and their treatments.  However, toxic exposure can result in diseases such as leukemia, Hodgkins disease, anemia, and lymphoma, that may have other causes.

Manganism - Manganese is released in welding smoke. Exposure can cause loss of balance, stiffness in the arms, and involuntary muscle contractions.  It must be caught before it gets to the central nervous system, because the damage it causes cannot be reversed. Drugs for the treatment of manganism are Levodopa Trihexphenidyl, Trihexphenidyl, Bromocriptine, and Amantidine. 

Berylliosis - Also known as chronic beryllium disorder, it is an occupational lung disease caused by exposure to beryllium. Some symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, joint aches and fever.  Those affected by berylliosis come from many industries, including: metal work, electronics, dental work, and atomic energy.  It is an incurable disease, but drugs can be taken to ease the inflammation of the lungs. Steroid treatment with Adrenocortical, Dexamethasone, and Prednisolone has been most common, although steroids have side effects of their own.

Mesothelioma - Is caused by exposure to asbestos, sometimes in the workplace. It can also be picked up during home renovation. It is a cancer that can cause serious damage to the lining of the lungs. The symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, night sweats and fever.  There is no known cure, but Alitma is usually prescribed.  Other options are surgery to remove the bad lung, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. 

Toxic Mold Syndrome - This occurs with exposure to toxic vapors, called mycotoxins, which can cause severe illnesses.  Exposure can occur outdoors and indoors. The symptoms include coughing, sneezing, choking, and difficulty swallowing.  To determine whether it is Toxic Mold Syndrome, there will be an examination of lung tissue, a breathing capacity test, and a lung function test. The treatment, once diagnosed, is usually cleaning and removing offending mold.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry offers detailed information about toxic substances and treatment methods .

For individuals living with toxic injuries, there are support groups that exist to link sufferers and promote social change.  These support groups are often focused on a particular type of toxic injury.

Read the next article:  Toxic Injury at Work

Contact an attorney in your area.