Disorders

Symtpoms and Treatment of Metal Fume Fever

If the body is exposed to hazardous chemicals and environmental pollution it could lead to health issue for the individual exposed.

Metal fume fever is an illness that is caused by exposure to zinc oxide fumes. It is a short term illness. Metal fumes fever is an allergic condition experienced by welders during their occupational lifetimes.

Who can get it?

Metal Fume Fever usually occurs in individuals who breathe in the fumes from welding, cutting, or brazing of galvanized metal. Since galvanized metal is more commonly used in the industry chances that worker has worked with it is great. Other metals such as cooper and magnesium may also cause similar effects on workers.

What causes it?

The exact cause of Metal Fume Fever is not known. It does involve a reaction when an individual inhales metal oxide fumes, and this causes injury to the cells lining the airways.

How does it happen?

When an individual inhales these fumes they can have an allergic reaction that leads them to develop Metal Fume Fever.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Metal Fume Fever are general; they sometimes mimic flu-like symptoms. They include fever, weakness, gastrointestinal pain, chills, nausea, headache, vomiting, fatigue, muscle aches, thirst, coughing, and joint pains. A sweet or metallic taste in the mouth, which will change or distort the taste food that the person eats. The individual may also experience a dry and irritated throat that could lead to hoarseness. Symptoms will usually start several hours after the individual has been exposed. A low grade fever usually begins after hours of exposure, followed by the sweating and chills. Symptoms will usually disappear on their own with forty-eight hours and it takes close to four days to fully recover. It usually occurs after a period of being away from the job.

How can it be diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Metal Fume Fever can be difficult, since the symptoms also resemble other types of illnesses. If you work with metal oxide fumes, or other gases and develop these symptom it is important to have a doctor conduct a medical evaluation. Some respiratory symptoms are mistaken for bronchitis. The doctor will first get a complete medical and informational history. Based on this the doctor can determine if you have been exposed to metal oxide fumes. An examination is conducted of the patient. Patients often have a wheezing type cough and the lungs may appear congested. The individual’s white blood cell count will be checked, since with Metal Fume Fever it can be increased. Urine and blood are also checked, since the levels of zinc can appear elevated. Chest X-rays are also done.

What treatments are available?

Treatment of Metal Fume Fever is similar to that of the flu. The individual needs to get plenty of bed rest and take aspirin and other medications for the flu like symptoms. Antibiotics may be given if an infection starts. Long term exposure can lead to illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia, pulmonary edema, nasal cancer and in some rare cases bone damage. The individual working with metal oxide fumes should keep their head out of the fumes and try not to breathe them in. They should also have enough ventilation to keep the fumes and gases from the breathing area. The worker should not take any chances with the fumes, they need to wear protective clothing and have a proper air supply available.

Metal Fume Fever can be eliminated by having the individual not exposed to the metal fumes anymore. They are many times when workers who are exposed over and over to the metal oxide fumes, develop a tolerance for it.  The best thing is for workers to be aware of the potential dangers, recognize the symptoms and take the necessary precautions to prevent this illness. It is recommended that in areas where metal oxides fumes could be exposed, that the air be tested by a qualified person, so that a determination to the hazard ness of the area can be made. In some rare cases, an individual may not be able to return to their job if they are going to be continually exposed to the metal fumes or gases.

Hope this article will provide you information about metal fume fever.

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