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What Are the Symptoms of Arsenic Poisoning?

A headache is a symptom of arsenic poisoning.
Numbness and tingling in hands and feet is a symptom of arsenic poisoning.
Stomach pain is a symptom of arsenic poisoning.
Tenderness or pressure in the body is a symptom of arsenic poisoning.
A hoarse voice is a symptom of arsenic poisoning.
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  • Originally Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 July 2014
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There are many different symptoms of arsenic poisoning ranging from the relatively benign to the potentially life-threatening. Headaches and persistent tingling in the hands and feet are some of the earliest signs of exposure, and prolonged contact often leads to striped, discolored, and brittle fingernails. Stomach cramps, bowel trouble, and difficulty breathing are also common, and in extreme cases people can experience cardiac arrest, blood disorders, and liver failure. The intensity and severity of symptoms is usually driven by how much of the poison a person has ingested as well as its potency.

Headaches

Persistent headaches are some of the most common symptoms. Usually these start out as relatively light and are typically centered behind one or both eyes. Painkillers will often dull discomfort for a time, but in most cases the ache returns just as soon as the medication has worn off. This is a particularly common complaint of people who are being slowly exposed to small amounts of arsenic over time, whether through tainted water, accidental ingestion, or intentional poisoning.

Numbness and Tingling

Another common complaint in arsenic poisoning cases is a subtle tingling or numbness, usually in the hands and feet. The sensation tends to come and go, but often grows more intense and disconcerting over time. People who suffer from long-term poisoning often say that their extremities constantly feel as though they are “asleep.” More general tenderness and sensitivity, particularly in the arms and legs, is also common.

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Fingernail Changes

Unusually dry, cracked, and discolored finger and toenails are a classic sign of arsenic ingestion. People with this symptom often complain of nails that seem to suddenly develop pronounced white or brown stripes that darken over time and become very brittle and prone to peeling. These effects can be long lasting, even after exposure has ended.

Gastrointestinal Distress

A number of problems related to the bowels and gastrointestinal tract are common, too. Stomach cramping, extreme constipation, and bloating happen in many patients, while others may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and general feelings of nausea. Once arsenic is in the blood, it tends to inflame many of the body’s most sensitive tissues; the intestines are often some of the most impacted. These sorts of symptoms typically go away once the poison has left the body.

Respiratory Problems

The throat, lungs, and bronchial tissues are also relatively sensitive and can be damaged by the compound, which can lead to a range of breathing problems. Wheezing and shortness of breath are common, but a hoarse, raspy voice and difficulty swallowing can also be present. Sometimes the spit turns yellowish, too, and saliva may dry up. People with this symptom often have a tinny, metallic taste in their mouth, and frequently complain of garlicky breath. Extreme thirst sometimes also accompanies these symptoms.

In Extreme Cases

Most symptoms of arsenic poisoning are unpleasant and can lead to deteriorated health over time, but they can sometimes also be immediately threatening. People who ingest high doses of the substance have been known to go into shock, which can lead to cardiac arrest — essentially a heart attack — or stroke. Organ failure is another possible consequence, particularly where the liver and kidneys are concerned.

What to Look Out For

Most symptoms of arsenic poisoning are also symptoms of a number of other conditions and diseases, which can make getting the right diagnosis somewhat challenging. Doctors and medical professionals usually advise people who suspect they’ve been poisoned to chart their symptoms over time, making note of how long symptoms last, when they began and ended, and their intensity. Anything that seems out of the ordinary and lasts for more than a day or two is usually something that experts say should be evaluated.

Common Safety Precautions

Poisoning is most often due to contaminated food or water. Arsenic is a natural compound that occurs in the soil, sometimes in dangerously high concentrations. Many cities and municipalities filter and test their water, but not all do; people who drink from private, particularly old, wells may also be at risk. Drinking only filtered, tested water is a good way to rule out this possibility. In rarer cases, people are intentionally poisoned, usually by a caretaker or someone else with direct access to food and water supply. Anyone who suspects intentional tampering should seek help from local authorities. Arsenic poisoning isn’t always fatal, but it can have life-altering consequences if left untreated for long periods of time.

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Discuss this Article

anon959135
Post 36

My girlfriend has been poisoning me for the past three years. She was hired by others to kill me for business reasons. I have to set up a trap for her but I don't know how to do that. Be aware of pretty girls. Some of them have an agenda.

anon924768
Post 35

I have all of these and more. Thrombocytopenia too (low blood platelets), which is also a symptom.

I left my boyfriend last week, and after not being with him for almost two days, I had so much energy. I literally had about 30 symptoms (some verified by a doctor's test) and I seem fine now. My twin thinks he was poisoning me.

My eyes are clear for the first time in over a year. They would look so bloodshot that I looked stoned. I was getting vertigo and dizzy spells so severely I had to almost stop driving all together, but I am driving everywhere now, and nothing. I feel like a million dollars.

anon356075
Post 34

I was just diagnosed with aneamia -- low red blood cells. My doctor thinks I may be losing blood internally. I used to work for an aluminum recycling plant where levels of arsenic were very high. It was impossible not to breathe in the dust and fumes at this plant, let alone the smell of ammonium nitrate from the wet byproduct from the furnaces. It's been six months since I've worked there and I still have that metal taste in my mouth. I'm concerned that I may have arsenic poisoning.

anon356050
Post 33

For sure, my father in law has been poisoned and we are pretty sure it was through his milk, but after reading this, I'm wondering if it has been going on longer.

You see, he isn’t necessarily a broke old timer. He has a little something, but he worked his whole life to have that and to be able to pass it down. Well, these people are trying to force him to go to the doctor. Stuff appears in the fridge we don’t remember buying. We do all his shopping and take care of him.

These people are renowned for preying on elderly people who may have family but have money and need help and they’ll let them die and take everything from the families left behind. They have stolen an increasing amount of his collections and bank statements/check book so they know what he has in the bank. Also, we have noticed they had a key.

Every time they would take him to the doc, this dude’s wife would ransack his house. Well, we changed the locks and moved in down the road and since we have been going up to his house every three hours and helping him, they drive up and down the road waiting and watching. They know he can’t keep anything down. He can barely drink anything. His vomit is for sure blackish red. When we noticed the milk, he told us we got it for him and I swear my husband said he didn’t think anything of it. It had seemed to have been opened. Once before he thought it may have been his dad. Well, right after he started to drink this milk, he started vomiting. We got rid of it and he stopped throwing up until he would try to eat. He said he can’t eat because everything tastes sweet.

I've looked everywhere and this has been the closest I've come to an answer. We knew for sure he was poisoned but we didn’t know what type it could have been.

He is also losing his speech. He has a sound mind but has losing his strength and everything he cares about the most. He hasn’t been able to keep anything down now for seven or eight days and I am starting to worry.

I need answers. It’s to the point we think he won’t make it to Christmas. He is an 88 year old World War II veteran who would do anything for anyone at any time. He doesn’t deserve this insane act of hatred, and to make it worse he gave the jerks causing all this 17 grand to help finish their home. They were supposed to sell their old house to him and knock what they owed him off the price. Instead, they sold it out from under him.

They are dirty as dirty comes and to be honest, they are the ones who are going to have to answer to the Lord Almighty come judgment day, and for all their hurtful and painful sins they’ll be damned to hell for all eternity.

anon347129
Post 32

I've been married over 20 years. We have a 20 year old and teenager at home. I began to suspect my husband was putting yard chemicals in my shampoo two years ago. I came home to find liquid spilled in the garage near our 'chemicals for outdoors rack.' The peculiar thing was, in the middle of the dried puddle, was the shape of my shampoo bottle, as if he had been pouring and overran the bottle.

I’d had episodes of burning scalp and small red whelps down my back, without any obvious reason. Always a favorite of ours, my husband has stopped drinking orange juice but offers it to me often. I have noticed gastric pains and nausea about an hour after. Three weeks ago, while preparing to go out, I put liquid make-up on my face and suddenly got very dizzy. My face was burning and I smelled a very strong odor of acetone. I rushed out of the bedroom to the kitchen to wash my face (my husband had just gotten out of shower in room where I had been). When I washed my face, big pieces of skin peeled off my nose and both sides of my cheeks. I was very dizzy and my vision was blurry. My husband just stood there, drying himself, watching me like a mouse in a trap. Lab tests for heavy metal poisoning are negative, and I have no money for hair testing or testing my shampoo, make-up and juice.

To make it worse, I have become aware that my husband sabotages me in public with little negative statements here and there. It's easy to say, 'just leave.' It’s much harder to do and take children too, with no way to support myself, plus I will lose many friends as my husband is very charismatic and respected, if not always well liked.

anon345199
Post 31

I am looking up this topic because last year my house got broken into. I was sick and missed over five weeks of work. Now I think my food was poisoned. The doctor told me to throw every thing that I ate, touched, or breathed and start over. I just do not know who broke in. But I was unable to get out of bed for three days and finally went to the doctor.

I have a crazy ex who has tried to run me off the road. One time, I got a smiley text from him, and swoosh! I was spinning in the ditch to keep a truck from hitting me. When I talked to the police, I was told to report it the next time, and they would try to narrow his location by the cell tower.

I am always looking for the next time. My kids do not talk to me anymore because they do not want me reporting it to the police if I know it is their dad. My twins are 35 and 31.

anon339817
Post 30

It's funny when people reach out on such a scary topic. I am feeling the same thing with recurrent illnesses over the years.

My question to those that posted negatively or said we are stupid: Why did you look for this topic in the first place? Are you someone looking to poison someone yourself? Just have some empathy, because, in my opinion, since you refer to our stupidity, you are probably looking to hurt someone else.

anon334796
Post 29

Is arsenic found in menthylated spirit and hair relaxers?

anon334050
Post 28

I am really worried. I have a lot of those symptoms and more that I have read elsewhere. Some symptoms that I have are white lines on my fingernails (I read that is a main symptoms of arsenic poisoning on many websites), it burns sometimes when pee(about two times a month this happens), I have weird texture type horizontal lines on my finger nails (also read on many different sites), a dry throat and purplish-red skin. I cannot think of anybody who would be poisoning me. Is there anything else that would cause these symptoms? Please help.

anon333371
Post 27

I have many of the symptoms, but my fears seem to be far-fetched. A lot is at stake with me gone from the scene though, and my husband is aggressive and acted violently against me several times already. People's intervention prevented serious consequences.

anon318707
Post 26

I'm confused. All of you are talking about the people you are living with poisoning you. If you think this is happening, why on earth would you stay there?

I know it's tough to move out on your own, you may not have means of support, but geez, if you think you are being poisoned, get out!

Even if you aren't, obviously you don't trust the person(s) you are with and believe they wish to harm you. Find a shelter, the local mission, ask a local church to help you find shelter, but get out if it's that bad!

anon300069
Post 23

If you are not sure whether someone is poisoning you, check your place for mold as it can produce many weird symptoms. Stop drinking fluoride in tap/spring water, check your mouth for metal fillings (mercury), and also start eating organic as commercial food has pesticides/herbicides (poisons). Many people are being poisoned by everyday life. I am sorry to those who were literally poisoned! Chlorella might help, along with Vitamin C?

amypollick
Post 20

@anon293093: See if you can get a lock of her hair. It doesn't have to be much, but poison can sometimes be detected in the hair. If it comes up positive for poison, maybe you can get her to file a complaint against him.

anon293093
Post 19

Please, someone help me. I have a good friend and she been feeling sick, lost her appetizer and she has been losing a lot of weight and gets sick at her stomach from time to time, I will say very often and she is losing her hair.

Her ex-husband decided to come back and live in her house and he has been preparing her meals. When they divorced, it was a bad divorce and turned really ugly to the point that he ended up in jail twice.

He came back crying to her and said he doesn't have a place to live and her daughter is seven years old. She begged her mom to let him in the house so she practically didn't have a choice but to let him in. Now she has been feeling sick like I said before.

Can someone please help me and get back to me with better advice on what to do to help her? I don't like to the way she is looking and I'm very worried.

anon283312
Post 18

I have been sick with the same symptoms a few times, four major times that I can recall. I am just getting over another bout. The symptoms were very severe stomach cramps, nausea, stomach bloating as if pregnant. weakness, headaches, lightheadedness, feeling as if I was going to fall over, muscles feel weird and weak, and throat felt restricted when I swallow at times. I realised this usually happened when I spent time over to a certain person's home for a weekend or any length of time, I alone would get sick.

I decided to send some samples of my hair to a toxicology lab and get tested to see what was going on. The tests came back showing arsenic in my system, twice as much as should be found in any human body. God had been good and kept me alive this long. Praise God. Someone has been poisoning me for sure, unless my well water at the former house I lived in was tainted. I am having the water there tested now, just to have it ruled out, really. The poison will show in the body with your hair so you will find it there. Please, if you feel as if you may be being poisoned, seek help and get that test done so you will know for sure. It could save your life.

anon275713
Post 17

I am getting very cold and tingling feet and hands. They are becoming painful, like from frostbite.

I also have bad pain in my lower back. My hair (and I mean all my hair) has become exceptionally thin, not the sturdy shafts as before. I don't feel well after eating and I am scared.

anon272286
Post 16

I think my on again-off again boyfriend has poisoned me with some type of chemical that he uses at work. He works at a place called varmen guard; it's like Orkin and he has access to all types of chemicals. I think he put it in my food while I was in the shower.

About an hour or two after eating, I started to get headaches, my throat became sore and both of my lower legs started to cramp and convulse really bad. Can insecticides cause these types of problems?

anon258262
Post 15

I suspect my ex-wife of trying to poison me many years ago. We had curry in the evening and she gave some of the leftover to take to work for lunch. After that I got violently sick. The symptoms included a painful and sensitive stomach, vomiting and confusion.

I looked into her eyes as she was about to give me more curry food and saw this cold look in her eyes. I then refused any food from her which saved my life. I recovered after that within three days.

anon256362
Post 14

@Post 13: Are you able to purchase test kits online without him knowing? I just purchased an arsenic test kit online, and they have other kinds of test kits too. You can test any liquid, I believe even your urine. I would either recommend testing your urine or saving a drink or other liquid he gives you until you can test it without him knowing.

As far as a way to narrow down what chemical it is, google lists of poisons and symptoms and see which ones fit your symptoms best. That way, you can narrow it down a little and go from there.

My husband and I have been being poisoned by my adoptive parents for a while. We believe it is arsenic, and our symptoms are similar to yours: Every time after we would eat an open food from our fridge (like pickles from a jar), our throats would burn, we would get really tired, very bad headaches, very weak. Then, after about an hour or so, we would both have very bad stomach cramps and severe diarrhea. These people have been poisoning me for a long time (we have since taken many precautions against it and have filed police reports), but from my experience, I can tell you that it will only get worse. I was in the hospital and came very close to dying many times.

Whatever poison this man you are living with is using, it may not just be in the food or drinks. Do you take any vitamins or pills? It can be in there too, especially if the pills are powdery.

I hope this helps and I hope you stay safe and healthy. Good luck.

anon255521
Post 13

I've been worried that the guy I'm living with is poisoning me with something. He makes food and won't eat it. My symptoms can be mild to severe.

First is my stomach severely bloats like I'm pregnant, my urine smells really odd, like a weird chemical and sometimes my stool does as well. I get nausea and diarrhea and right now I'm really sick.

My throat feels literally like it's been burned. I get a weird menthol type vapor in my throat or it just feels hot inside. Sometimes I'm really tired and weak and either my heart races or it's slow. I'm having tingling in my hands. Please can someone help? He's a farmer. I don't think I'm crazy. What chemical would it be?

anon255084
Post 12

I am pretty sure I am being poisoned with arsenic. Is there a way to test food or liquids for arsenic? What are other ways people may put arsenic in your house? I have a very sore throat, trouble breathing, stomach pains, severe diarrhea, joint pain, and muscle twitches.

I have been poisoned before by the people I am suspecting, but I am not sure of the poison they are using and how they are getting it into my apartment. I believe they may have a key and come in while I am at work and put it in open food (any time I eat open food, like pickles from a jar or chips, I end up with severe stomach cramps and diarrhea). I stopped eating open food at my house, but I am still sick with the respiratory symptoms, extremely tired, dizzy, and very bad headaches. Does anyone have any suggestions to figure out which poison is being used?

anon181972
Post 11

can arsenic poisoning cause decreased hearing/sight, severe pain in joints?

anon162381
Post 9

I've been poisoned by my wife for at least two years: small daily doses of As2O3 in my coffee. Lack of imagination. The worst consequences are the peripheral neuropathy and the brain insult (encephalopathy). My physician told me there is no treatment and invited me to choose between Lourdes and Fatima. A common prayer from my bed could be effective as well.

anon152221
Post 8

I was poisoned by my husbands secretary. My symptoms were severe diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting. I was hospitalized where it turned into peritonitis and meningitis. The doctors could not say what I had, however they say I may have consumed poison.

anon132813
Post 7

I can't believe all this! Run, people, run if you think you are poisoned.

anon109169
Post 6

I've been trying to stop this for years. my brother married a crazy woman and she has admitted that she had poisoned me when i was expecting my first child in 1976 when i was six and a half months pregnant, and has since admitted that she poisoned her mum after her mum warned her not to pick and play with the poisonous plants in the garden.

She likes to grow lots of foxglove and trains poison ivy around the garden furniture. She said she put them in her cake and fed it to her mother. I went into fits after she fetched me some pickles that she knew i really liked. I gave birth to my unborn daughter in pieces. The hospital said i had eclampsia and toxemia! My blood pressure was through the roof. I was sick overnight and had severe dysentery. They lost me twice in the operating room and banned everyone from visiting.

I have tried endlessly to have her and my brother arrested. She repeatedly kept saying, "We were sick of you!" She was jealous, i think, of not having a mum, and i am the only true daughter. They say the profile of a young girl losing her mum is that they still want to play and it turns to sexual abuse too. She is definitely an abuser too.

anon107188
Post 5

My younger brother is poisoning me, my two sons and my mother (which is also his mother too). Our symptoms include stomach pains, slight shortness of breath, diarrhea, red eyes, sore throat, slight lapses in memory, problems sleeping, numbness in the tips of fingers (my mother), slight chest pain, sore / irritated throat, muscle and joint pain and coughing.

According to his now ex-wife (He used to beat her and threaten her children) he is Bipolar. My whole family believes it also. His ex-wife is a neurological nurse. According to the neurosurgeons that she worked with say that my brother is Bipolar.

He suffers from really bad headaches and his personality changes daily. One minute he's sweet, caring, very charming and very funny and the next minute he's very quiet reserved and closed out to the world. Please give me any and all information ASAP. I would like to involve local law enforcement. Thank you so much.

anon86102
Post 3

For the last few years now, I've been in and out of the emergency room because my left leg would just swell up. An MRI was taken except for toxic testing. They found pinched nerves from my neck and my liver enzymes are high.

I am not sure what is going on, except the doctor from the emergency room told me if I don't get better to see him. Not to see anybody else, he just told me that my intestines are swollen up or inflamed.

Do you think my husband is poisoning me? I drink a lot of water and healthy drinks and my diet is actually good. I eat red meat once a month, eat vegetables and fruits, fish, and chicken. This is been going on since 2004. If I was being poisoned, it could be off and on. Only when I have life insurance and it's not even a lot of money. Am I dealing with a crazy man?

anon79625
Post 2

If you have feasible proof, divorce your husband. What if you can ot prevent the continued poisoning? Death is the result. Run and do not turn back.

anon77609
Post 1

I have been poisoned two times that I know of by my husband. The first time had to be liquid because I had left a tape recorder on and heard him say he put it in my watermelon. It had to be liquid.

Is there some way they do this or can it be purchased in liquid form? The last time he opened a soft drink for me before I got in the car. Can it dissolve that quickly? What am I dealing with here and how do I avoid this?

Does a Britta water filter keep my drinking water safe from it?

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