Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms: Causes & How To Treat It?

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when carbon monoxide accumulates in the bloodstream. When there is too much of carbon monoxide in the air, the body replaces the oxygen in your RBCs with carbon monoxide. This can lead to serious tissue damage, or even death.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is released by burning gas, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel.

Appliances and engines which are not properly ventilated, especially in a tightly enclosed space, makes carbon monoxide buildup to dangerous levels.

Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Dull headache
  • Giddiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Breathless
  • Blurring of vision
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

How Does Carbon Monoxide Cause Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you inhale combustion fumes. When there is an excessive amount of carbon monoxide in the air you’re breathing, your body replaces the oxygen in the RBCs with carbon monoxide. Consequently, oxygen does not reach your tissues.

Various fuel-burning products and engines release carbon monoxide. Usually, the quantity of carbon monoxide released is not a cause for concern. However, if they are used in a closed space the carbon monoxide may accumulate to dangerous levels.

Inhalation of smoke during a fire also causes carbon monoxide poisoning.

How To Treat Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Get fresh air immediately and call for emergency medical help if you or someone with you shows symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. The treatment comprises of:

  • In the emergency room, you will be given pure oxygen through a mask. This helps oxygen reach your tissues. If you cannot breathe on your own, a ventilator may be given.
  • Spending time in a pressurized oxygen chamber is recommended. In many cases, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is advised. You need to breathe in pure oxygen in a chamber in which the pressure of air is approximately three times higher than normal. This hastens the substitution of carbon monoxide with oxygen in the blood.

Simple precautionary measures can help ward off against carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Set up carbon monoxide detectors. If the alarm sounds, leave your house immediately and call the fire department.
  • Keep the garage door open before you start the car. Do not leave the car running in your garage. Leaving the car running in a small space attached to the rest of your house is very unsafe.
  • Keep fuel burning engines and gadgets correctly vented. These include – fireplaces, water heaters, cooking ranges, grills and car engines.
  • Use gas appliances as advised. Use portable gas stoves outdoors only. Fuel burning heaters should be used only when someone is awake to keep an eye on them; and the doors or windows should be kept open to make sure there is plenty of fresh air.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep it in good condition. Keep the fireplace and chimney clean. Keep chimneys unblocked during remodeling. Make sure that they are not covered by debris.
  • If there has been an incidence of carbon monoxide poisoning at your home, it is very crucial for you to ascertain and repair the cause before you live there again. The fire department will be able to help.