Aluminum Toxicity



What is Aluminum?

Aluminum is a naturally-occurring mineral. The excess level of aluminum can produce toxicity symptoms in the body [1, 2].

The element aluminum is the most abundant metal found in the crust of the earth. It has a high reactivity and is usually found in combination with other elements. This is usually found in most animal and plant tissues and in natural sources of water [1]. Aluminum metal is light weight and appears silvery-white and this is used for cooking pots and pans, beverage cans.

Other possible sources of aluminum include antacids, antiperspirants, and cosmetics [2, 3]. A person may be exposed from aluminum by consuming food and water that has trace amounts of aluminum, living in a community where aluminum is mined and processed and intake of medications that may contain high amounts of aluminum [3, 4].

What is Aluminum Toxicity?

Aluminum may be present in food, water, air, and medications and it can be absorbed by the body through different mechanisms. Aluminum in the food, water, and drugs is absorbed orally. The substance aluminum phosphate is the only form of aluminum that can’t be absorbed by the body.

The aluminum that is present in the air is absorbed in the epithelium of the lungs and can transport to the brain. This element is stored in the liver, lungs, thyroid, brain, and bone. The level of aluminum in these organs does not increase except in the lungs and liver where it may accumulate due to its long half-life.


The main method of the excretion of aluminum is through the urine. Accumulation of aluminum is not a problem in individuals with normal kidney function because of the ability of the renal system to remove lithium. Kidney failure increases the possibility of lithium toxicity. Those who undergo hemodialysis are found to have elevated bone aluminum levels because of the inability of their kidneys to excrete the aluminum [1, 2, 3, 4].

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of aluminum toxicity are nonspecific. Most of the time, the physician may not consider the possibility of an aluminum toxicity based on their presenting symptoms. Initially, there may be proximal muscle weakness, multiple fractures that are nonhealing, alterations in their mental status and may have premature osteoporosis.

Aluminum Toxicity

Children who suffer from this condition commonly have bone deformities due to their increased rate of growth. The bone deformities in adults manifest as lumbar scoliosis, abnormalities in thoracic cage and kyphosis [1, 2, 3, 4].

Treatment

The focus of the medical care is to reduce the amount of aluminum that is present in the system. This is achieved by reducing the intake of foods that have high levels of aluminum and avoid medications that contain this element. Elimination of aluminum is encouraged through the administration of the drug Deferoxamine which is known to increase the excretion of aluminum through the urine [1, 2].


Medical Referral

A referral to a nephrologist may be required for the management of the patient’s condition. There may be a need for a consultation with a neurologist or hematologist depending on the symptoms manifested by the patient. Those who have manifested with bone fractures of osteoporosis may be referred to a physical therapist for activity modification to prevent further injury [2].

Prevention

Eating food that is high in aluminum level or using medication that may contain this element would not be a problem in those that have normal renal function. Those who have renal impairment or undergoing dialysis may have to watch out for these substances to prevent the occurrence of aluminum toxicity [1, 2, 3, 4].

Not many people may be aware of this condition but the toxicity of aluminum can be dangerous especially if it is not addressed immediately. If have any experience regarding this condition or if you have more info, you can share this in the comment section below. You can also share this article on your Facebook or Twitter page to help spread the awareness about this condition.

References

  1. Bernardo, J. F. (2015, April 15). Aluminum Toxicity. Retrieved from Medscape: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/165315-overview#a5
  2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2015, March 12). Toxic Substances Portal – Aluminum. Retrieved from Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=190&tid=34
  3. Analytical Research Labs, Incorporated. (2012). Aluminum Toxicity. Retrieved from Analytical Research Labs, Incorporated: http://www.arltma.com/Articles/AlumToxDoc.htm
  4. Mercola, J. (2014, March 22). First Case Study to Show Direct Link Between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity. Retrieved from Mercola: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/22/aluminum-toxicity-alzheimers.aspx

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