Metal sensitivity – FAQ


  • What is metal hypersensitivity?

    Metal hypersensitivity is a disorder of the immune system that affects 10% to 15% of the population. In susceptible people, exposure to certain metals is followed by a cell-mediated immune reaction (type IV hypersensitivity, also called delayed-type hypersensitivity).

    A type IV hypersensitivity reaction is mediated by T-lymphocytes (white blood cells) that have had prior contact with a given allergen. These cells respond by enlarging (lymphoblast transformation) and dividing (proliferation) when exposed to the sensitizing allergen. The newly formed effector cells, together with their secreted cytokines, mediate the resulting allergic reaction.

    Inflammation activated by metal allergy may be one of the causes of ill health in patients. Type IV metal allergy is often overlooked as a culprit in many of today’s chronic illnesses (more info HERE).

  • Which symptoms may indicate metal allergy?

    The classic symptom of metal hypersensitivity is allergic contact dermatitis. In addition to local symptoms, chronic exposure to metals may cause numerous symptoms associated with an overactive immune system in susceptible people. Patients with metal hypersensitivity report symptoms such as inflammation, joint and muscle pain, cognitive impairment (brain fog), depression, and headaches. Metal hypersensitivity has been implicated in the aetiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple sclerosis (MS), fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS).

  • Which metals cause allergy?

    The most frequently allergenic metal are nickel, gold, palladium, cadmium, various mercury compounds, cobalt and chromium.
    Occasionally, other metals can induce positive responses in MELISA, e.g. beryllium, titanium, tin, platinum and copper.

  • Where can metals be found?

    Dental restorations - fillings, crowns, implants and braces
    Orthopaedic devices - knee and hip replacements, pins and plates
    Cardio and Vascular - embolization coils, stents, septal occluders, implanted defibrillators and pacemakers
    Environmental - jewellery, cell phones, coins, certain foods and medications etc.

    A detailed overview of metals found in frequently used dental and orthopaedic restorations as well as an overview of metals present in our environment could be found HERE.

  • In which fields of medicine does a metal allergy play an important role?

    General medicine, dentistry, allergology, occupational medicine, orthopedic surgery, dermatology, internal medicine, pediatrics, and environmental medicine.

  • How can a metal allergy be diagnosed?

    With a skin test or, more objectively and safely, with the MELISA test.