Zinc overdose is a rare condition that may result from intake of large doses of zinc. This article will provide information on symptoms, dangers, and treatment of zinc overdose.
Zinc is a mineral required by the body for variety of processes. With the help of zinc, the body produces number of enzymes needed for different chemical reactions. Zinc improves the immune system, aids in healing wounds, promotes cell division, encourages normal growth and development and is required for male fertility. Zinc can be found in many foods such as seafood, eggs, lean beef and pork, poultry, nuts, cheese and soybeans. If zinc is not obtained from food, people take it in the form of supplement. Recommended daily allowance for zinc is around 9-11 mg but according to the FDA dose of around 40 mg is considered to be safe. However, when zinc intake exceeds this level it can result in zinc overdose.
Dangers of Zinc Overdose
Prolonged consumption of zinc supplements can cause many health problems. High intake of zinc prevents absorption of iron and cooper in the body. Particularly toxic are free zinc ions in solution form since free zinc is a strong acid that is corrosive in nature. Metallic zinc is dissolved in the hydrochloric acid in the stomach resulting in corrosive zinc chloride. Excess zinc in the body also leads to a copper deficiency. Cholesterol levels in the body may be affected by zinc overdose as well. Finally, inhalation of zinc oxide can cause metal-fume fever or zinc chills that commonly affect industrial workers.
Symptoms of Zinc Overdose
An overdose form a single large dose of zinc is acute overdose. The symptoms of acute overdose appear within 30 minutes to an hour. They include severe nausea, vomiting, headaches, loss of appetite, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Chronic overdose occurs due to regular intake of high disease of zinc for long period of time. The symptoms of chronic overdose may appear after some time but they are commonly more serious. Chronic zinc overdose results in weakened immune system. Anemia and lowering of levels of good cholesterol are other common symptoms. These can result in decreased ability to absorb nutrients and impair body’s ability to fight infections. Zinc overdose can also cause anosmia, or loss of sensation of smell that is due to damage to the nerve receptors in the nose.
Treatment of Zinc Overdose
Zinc overdose doesn’t require treatment. The symptoms can gradually resolve once intake of zinc is discontinued or decreased. It is recommended to increase intake of copper because it hinders absorption of zinc. However, in case of zinc poisoning that occurs when large amount of zinc is ingested at once it requires medical attention.