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What are the symptoms of arsenic poisoning?

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Quick Answer

Symptoms of arsenic poisoning include dark urine, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, according to MedicineNet. Other symptoms include delirium, vertigo and cardiac problems. In extreme cases, arsenic poisoning may result in death.

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Full Answer

Symptoms of chronic exposure to arsenic include recurring diarrhea, skin discoloration, abnormal heart rhythm and partial paralysis, explains Mount Sinai Hospital. Patients may also experience nausea, drowsiness, thickening of the skin and numbness in their hands and feet.

Symptoms of acute exposure to arsenic often occur within 30 to 60 minutes and include vomiting blood, garlic or metallic taste in the mouth, and abdominal pain, explains Mount Sinai Hospital. Paralytic symptoms include shutdown of the cardiovascular system and slowing down of the central nervous system. Death may occur within a few hours of acute arsenic exposure or poisoning.

Arsenic poisoning affects almost all organ systems, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Patients may experience gastrointestinal, hepatic, renal and neurological effects. Acute arsenic poisoning, such as in suicide attempts, causes cardiovascular effects, including diffuse capillary leakage that leads to vasodilation, delayed cardiomyopathy, hypotension and shock.

Dermal symptoms include keratoses and Mee's lines in nails, reports the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. There may be patchy hyperpigmentation in the neck, temples and eyelids. Arsenic is a reproductive toxicant, and long- term ingestion is linked to spontaneous abortions in women and congenital malformation in infants.

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies arsenic as a carcinogen, according to MedicineNet. Long-term exposure may lead to lung, kidney, skin or bladder cancer.

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