10 Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
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Carbon monoxide is a fairly common gas. The vast majority of us are likely to be exposed to it quite often, but not usually in doses that are dangerous to us. It is commonly encountered as a by-product of burning fossil fuels, although it does occur naturally as well. For example, it can emanate from heaters, motor vehicles, or cooking appliances that work with carbon-based fuels. If carbon monoxide is produced in enclosed spaces, it can accumulate and reach dangerous levels.

Carbon monoxide binds with the hemoglobin in our red blood cells (carboxyhemoglobin), replacing the oxygen they carry. This is a problem for us because it then means our blood is unable to deliver enough oxygen to our tissues. Carbon monoxide toxicity is a dangerous condition, that can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Carbon monoxide is often known as a silent killer because it is completely odorless. Frequently, it causes toxicity and death in people who inhale it while sleeping.

Symptom #1: Shortness of breath

Every time our lungs expand, they draw fresh air into them. This air is usually rich in oxygen, which is absorbed into the blood and then carried around the rest of the body. In some circumstances, such as after exercising, we will need to breathe harder in order to meet the higher demand for oxygen.

In the case of carbon monoxide poisoning, the lungs will be made to work harder to try and get more oxygen into the system. This will be in vain, though, because the hemoglobin that is tightly bound to carbon monoxide is not easily replaced at normal air oxygen concentrations (i.e.21% oxygen). When an intoxicated person is taken to the emergency department, they usually require standard oxygen therapy (100% oxygen) through a mask to decrease the levels of carboxyhemoglobin below 10%.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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