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Dr. Abby
Dr. Abby, US Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 10330
Experience:  Family Physician practicing medicine for over 10 years, United States
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Someone told me that you can tell if youve been poisoned

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Someone told me that you can tell if youve been poisoned with arsenic was hard to tell. I think I've been poisoned. I was very ill from July until March of this year. Hospitalized twice for "dehydration". Things changed for me in March, thats when I started feeling better. Now I've noticed I have a cresent moon going side to side almost in the middle of my fingers....all 10 of them. Can you tell me if its possible I was poisoned?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.

Your suspicion is that you may have been intentionally exposed to arsenic, correct?
Or is this from an occupational exposure?
Were you dehydrated due to nausea/vomiting/diarrhea/cramping/abdominal pain?

Any other symptoms? (rashes, numbness/tingling in feet and hands, high blood pressure?)

Dr Abby
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
My family believes it was intentional. Yes, had vomiting and diarrhea. Also had tingling in both feet and hands. Blood pressure was not high, but kept dropping extremely low....68/53 was the lowest.
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.
I am so sorry that you have experienced this and that there is suspicion of poisoning.

I am glad you are feeling better.
As you are aware, arsenic poisoning, if not exposed to it occupationally, is not usually suspected when presenting with gastrointestinal illnesses. It is often a long and drawn out process (repetitive hospitalizations with similar symptoms, etc) before it is often even thought of.

The crescent moon (if it looks like white lines going across the nails) are also known as Mee's lines. These can be a symptom of arsenic poisoning; however they are not specific for arsenic. They can be caused by many illnesses--pneumonia, heart failure, carbon monoxide poisoning, thallium poisoning, sickle cell anemia, kidney failure are just some of the underlying causes.

Because you are potentially three months or more out from when you were possibly poisoned, testing is more difficult unless you continue to be exposed (if this is the case urine testing can be done). Hair and nail testing can be performed if the exposure is over--however these tests are not standardized and for this reason, are often not accurate.
If your levels were extremely high, this would be more helpful than low levels--most people will have some levels of arsenic in the hair and nails. You may be able to find a physician in your area that does hair testing (it has to be sent to a special lab in most cases) but again, be wary of the accuracy of the test unless your values are very, very high.

Hopefully, this will not recur for you. If you do have a recurrence of symptoms, the diagnosis is made by doing a urine arsenic level. Alert your doctors (or have a family member you can trust do so if you are too ill) that you suspect this may be going on so that the test can be done while you are ill.

Take good care of yourself and I hope that you are safe.

Please feel free to ask any follow up questions,

Dr Abby

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