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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Jan 16, 2024

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Causes Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Risk Factors Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Diagnosis Of  Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Treatment Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Prevention Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Complications Of  Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when blood levels of carbon monoxide rise. When there is too much carbon monoxide in the air, the body uses red blood cells to convert it to oxygen. This could cause fatalities or severe tissue damage.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas. Burning fuels like gas, wood, propane, or charcoal produces carbon monoxide. Engines and equipment without ventilation run the risk of accumulating petrol in dangerous quantities. If someone has come into contact with carbon monoxide, they should leave the area right away and receive medical help. 


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Causes Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Many fuel-burning engines and machinery release carbon monoxide. In environments with sufficient ventilation, the quantity of carbon monoxide produced by these sources usually poses little threat. 

When used in a closed or partially closed space, the carbon monoxide level, however, can be dangerous. Examples include using a charcoal barbecue indoors or driving a car inside a garage.

Inhaled fumes cause the blood to contain carbon monoxide instead of oxygen. As a result, oxygen cannot reach tissues and organs.

Moreover, inhaling smoke during a fire might cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Furthermore, there has been an increase in younger cases of carbon monoxide poisoning linked to smoking by using a hookah.

Also Read: Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Overdosing on carbon monoxide most often affects the heart and brain. With exposure, one may eventually develop flu-like symptoms without a fever. Some other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are as follows:

  • Headache.
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusing
  • Foggy vision 
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Lack of awareness

Once recovering from a carbon monoxide overdose, symptoms related to the nervous system and brain may manifest. These are more common in older people and people who have lost consciousness from carbon monoxide exposure. Symptoms that could occur include:

  • Memory loss
  • Change in behaviour
  • Movement problems

If a person is intoxicated, dope-ridden, or sleepy, carbon monoxide poisoning can be extremely dangerous. Even if no one realizes there is a problem, carbon monoxide can cause death or severe brain damage.

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Risk Factors Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Breathing in carbon monoxide could be especially dangerous for:

  • Unborn fetuses: Compared to adult blood cells, fetal blood cells are more capable of absorbing carbon monoxide.
  • Infants and early children: Young children breathe more often than adults do.
  • Age: In an elderly person, a carbon monoxide overdose may result in brain damage.

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Diagnosis Of  Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Treatment for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning will likely start right away if a patient is brought to the emergency room. To confirm the diagnosis, a blood sample may be subjected to a carbon monoxide test by medical personnel. 

As soon as it is practical, this test should be carried out after removing the person from the likely exposure area. But the test shouldn't cause the treatment plan to be delayed.

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Treatment Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Inhale a quick breath of fresh air. Immediately seek medical attention if you or anyone else in your surroundings is exhibiting signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. These consist of headaches, nausea, disorientation, dyspnea, and lightheadedness.

The hospital's course of treatment could include:

  • Inhaling pure air: During treatment in the emergency room, a mask covering the mouth and nose is used to breathe pure oxygen. Tissues and organs get more oxygen. People who are incapable of breathing on their own could be put on a ventilator, which is a machine that mimics breathing.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: Obtaining medical attention in an oxygen chamber. We call this oxygen therapy hyperbaric. It is spending a set amount of time inside a chamber breathing solely pure oxygen. The air pressure inside the chamber is two to three times higher than usual. This helps the blood carry oxygen in place of carbon monoxide. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be beneficial for severe carbon monoxide overdose. It helps shield the heart and brain tissue from the harmful effects of carbon monoxide. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is an additional option for pregnant women to protect their fetuses from the damage caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Prevention Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Ways to prevent the danger of poisoning from carbon monoxide include:

  • A carbon monoxide detector should be installed in your home. On every story of the house, place them adjacent to each bedroom. Check both smoke detector and battery levels concurrently at least twice a year.
  • Open the garage door before starting the car. Especially if the garage is joined to the home, it is best to never leave a car running inside. That's true even with the garage door open.
  • Utilize gas equipment only as recommended. Use gas camp stoves exclusively outside. Fuel-burning space heaters should only be used when doors and windows are open and someone is awake to supervise them. Never run a generator in a closed space, such as a basement or garage.
  • Set up all appliances that burn coal, oil, or gas by professionals. Have them serviced annually by a trustworthy service provider.
  • Keep fireplaces in good condition. It is recommended to clean the fireplace's flue and chimney annually.
  • Chimneys and vents should remain open when renovating. Make that they are not covered by tarps or other materials.
  • When returning to the poisoned site, make the appropriate repairs. Find the gas source and fix it before you go back inside if you have had carbon monoxide poisoning. Get any appliances that might have started the leak inspected and serviced by a qualified repairman.

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Complications Of  Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The degree of harm depends on how much and how long someone breathes in carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include:

  • Damage to the heart that can cause potentially lethal cardiac problems 
  • Brain damage 
  • Death

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