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The most common symptoms of nickel poisoning include nausea, headaches, and vertigo. Other symptoms might include vomiting and trouble sleeping. As the condition worsens, more severe symptoms might begin to manifest, such as chest pains or increased heart rate. Most people develop nickel poisoning through inhalation, and if treatment is not received in a timely manner, it is possible that death could occur. Even though anyone could become poisoned from nickel exposure, people who work in refining plants or mines tend to be much more likely to develop it.
Nickel poisoning symptoms are generally minor at first, and for this reason many people do not immediately seek medical treatment. Nausea, headaches, and several of the other warning signs might be incorrectly interpreted as the onset of the flu or some other temporary virus. People often fail to see their doctors until they begin having chest pains and insomnia. As the poisoning worsens, pneumonia-like symptoms tend to develop as a result of the metal settling inside the lungs. At this point, getting to a doctor as soon as possible is crucial for survival.
When a person with possible nickel poisoning goes to see his doctor, a urine sample will probably be taken first. Urine testing is important when poisoning from any type of metal is suspected because doctors can tell from a sample how much of the metal is inside the body. Patients are almost always given oxygen to aid in breathing, and this is typically followed up with chelation therapy. The purpose of chelation therapy is to help the body rid itself of toxic metallic substances, and it is done by injecting substances into the body that will stick to the metal while also making it less toxic.
Symptoms of the poisoning should subside not long after chelation therapy is complete. Doctors generally advise patients to get lots of rest for a few weeks after the procedure, and antibiotics might additionally be prescribed to help prevent infection, which is more likely to occur due to the weakening of the immune system. People often recover completely after being poisoned by most metals, and seeing a doctor as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms may help to ensure this. It is possible to prevent nickel poisoning by wearing appropriate clothing and face gear to limit contact with the metal, and those with jobs putting them at increased risk of exposure to any heavy metals should be especially mindful of these precautions.