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Metal Fume Fever Information

Metal fume fever is the name for an illness that is caused primarily by exposure to zinc oxide fume (ZnO) in the workplace. It is sometimes called the oxide shakes, zinc chills, or the zinc shakes. The exact cause of metal fume fever is not known. The most plausible theory involves an immune reaction which occurs when inhaled metal oxide fumes injure the cells lining the airways. The symptoms are nonspecific but are generally flu like including: Fever, chills, nausea, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pains. Symptoms will normally disappear within 24 to 48 hours, and someone suffering from metal fume fever will usually feel well enough return to work the next day despite the fact that they may still be feeling a little bit under the weather. Metal fume fever is classically associated with zinc oxide fume exposure from welding galvanised steel or brass. It is also seen in association with high temperature zinc coating processes and metal pouring in brass foundries. It can present with a systemic inflammatory response causing a multi-organ serositis. It is a common, acute, severe occupational syndrome. Metal Fume Fever is more likely to occur after a period away from the job (after weekends or vacations). High levels of exposure may cause a metallic or sweet taste in the mouth, dry and irritated throat, thirst, and coughing at the time of the exposure. The symptoms of metal fume fever are usually self-limiting, and dissipate rapidly upon removal from the source of metal fumes. Treatment of metal fume fever consists of bedrest, and symptomatic therapy.

Causes of Metal Fume Fever

The common causes and risk factor's of Metal Fume Fever include the following:

  • The exact cause of metal fume fever is not known.
  • An immune reaction.
  • Exposure to zinc oxide fume (ZnO) in the workplace.

Symptoms of Metal Fume Fever

Some sign and symptoms related to Metal Fume Fever are as follows:

  • A metallic taste in the mouth.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea and fatigue.
  • Joint pains.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Dry cough.

Treatment of Metal Fume Fever

Here is list of the methods for treating Metal Fume Fever:

  • Bedrest.
  • Symptomatic therapy (e.g. aspirin for headaches).


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