What Are the Symptoms of Manganese Poisoning?

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  • Written By: Debra Durkee
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2019
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Manganese poisoning is a serious condition that occurs when too much of the element is in the body. Every individual has some manganese in his or her system, but when levels become too high, problems like memory loss, insomnia, and difficulty speaking can develop. Severe cases of prolonged exposure can result in a condition similar to Parkinson's disease and permanent nerve damage.

Manganese is present in small quantities in a variety of foods such as green vegetables, and some is necessary for regulating the balance of hormones within the body. Some individuals, especially steelworkers or others in the metal industry, can easily be exposed through toxicity in the air. Manganese poisoning does not happen rapidly and can take several months for enough to build up in the bloodstream to cause changes in the brain. The brain and the nerves are usually first to show signs of poisoning, usually when the individual begins to demonstrate signs of chronic memory loss, headaches, and difficulty sleeping.

The effects on the nervous system can often be drastic and lead to exaggerated, involuntary movements. An individual's reflexes often become hyper-sensitive and give an exaggerated response when stimulated. Small tremors in the body may become drastic, especially in the hands. Muscles can become permanently rigid, making many other symptoms worse.


Symptoms of manganese poisoning can vary based on the individual and severity of the exposure. In the worst cases, he or she may develop difficulty speaking or forming words, and the muscles in the face can become difficult to control. A small percentage of individuals who develop manganese poisoning also develop a distinctive, forward-leaning manner of walking.

Those subjected to high levels of manganese for long periods of time can develop addition symptoms, typically also related to nerve damage. Painful leg cramps can be difficult to work out, with eventual partial or complete paralysis of a limb. Emotional problems such as uncontrolled outbursts, mood swings, and depression may occur. The development of memory loss is common, with rare occurrences of hallucinations.

Some of the neurological symptoms of manganese poisoning are similar to those suffered by individuals with too little manganese in the system. Poisoning often results in a susceptibility to conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Studies have suggested that prolonged exposure to high levels of manganese can lead to impotence, and manganese poisoning can have a negative impact on male and female fertility.



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