Heavy Metal Basic Panel (5520) (Access Medical Labs)Urine
Performed by: Access Medical Labs
A heavy metal blood test or urine test is a panel of tests that help measure the amount of heavy metal toxicity in your blood, urine or other body tissue or fluid. While “heavy metals” is a broad term, some of the most common metals that are tested for include lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, copper, zinc, aluminum and thallium. Sometimes, these tests are also known as heavy metal toxicity tests.
So how do heavy metals get into your system?
You can breathe them in, eat them or absorb them through your skin. Some small quantities of essential element metals are needed in order to survive and regulate bodily functions – like chromium, iron and zinc. These metals can be incorporated in safe levels with supplements. However, overexposure to metals can be toxic to humans and can cause heavy metal poisoning. This heavy metal concentration in your body can cause harmful health effects like organ damage and dysfunction, neurological and muscular degeneration, cancer, allergies and even death.
Getting a heavy metal test is useful to determine the levels of heavy metals in your system. A heavy metal test measures the type of heavy metals in your system and how much of that toxic metal may be present.
Your healthcare provider may order a heavy metals panel if you have any signs or symptoms of heavy metal poisoning and/or your healthcare provider suspects you’ve dealt with heavy metal exposure.
Taking a heavy metal toxicity test can also be useful in guiding the management and treatment of any heavy metal poisoning. Retaking a test after treatment can provide confirmation that the treatment methods are working. For instance, a heavy metal test can help monitor the effectiveness of chelation therapy, which is a treatment to help rid the body of high amounts of heavy metals. A known recent exposure to heavy metals may also be a reason for getting a heavy metal test.
Have I been exposed to heavy metals?
There are many sources of heavy metal exposure. Here are some common ways you can be exposed to heavy metals:
- Working in a factory that uses or processes heavy metals
- Breathing in lead paint as a result of fixing up your older home
- Soil erosion, sewage discharge, and breathing in pesticides
- Eating fish that was caught in an area with high mercury levels
- Drinking water contaminated by heavy metals
What are the signs and symptoms of heavy metal poisoning?
Unfortunately, many signs and symptoms of heavy metal poisoning overlap with other conditions and can be confused with other conditions. The symptoms of heavy metal poisoning may also depend on the exact metal you’ve been exposed to. Some metals are much more toxic than others, and the exposure method can also influence the severity of the poisoning. For instance, a metal that’s inhaled may be more dangerous than the same metal being held in your hand. Lead exposure and lead poisoning, for instance, is much more harmful to young children since their brains are still developing.
So although the signs and symptoms can vary drastically, your healthcare provider may recommend a heavy metal test if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Nervous system symptoms like tingling in your hands or feet
Biomarkers included in this panel:
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