What Are the Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?


Quick Answer

The most common signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and weakness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It may also cause chest pain and confusion. If enough carbon monoxide is inhaled, unconsciousness and death may result.

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Full Answer

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, notes Mayo Clinic. It is produced by the burning of wood, charcoal, gas, oil or kerosene. When carbon monoxide builds up in an enclosed, poorly ventilated area, it inhibits the ability of the body to absorb oxygen, ultimately leading to tissue damage and death.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is treated with oxygen therapy, explains WebMD. The most common treatment is the breathing of 100 percent oxygen through a mask. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the second type of oxygen therapy for carbon monoxide poisoning. With this treatment, oxygen is delivered under high pressure while the patient lies in an enclosed chamber. It rapidly reduces the concentration of carbon monoxide in the blood. With treatment, recovery can occur within days, though long term complications may still result.

All people and pets are susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the CDC; however, certain groups are especially sensitive to its effects. Unborn babies, infants, people with anemia, and those with cardiovascular or respiratory disease are at special risk. Fatality rates are highest among those 65 and older.

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