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What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning And How Can It Be Prevented?

Apr 28


Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that kills thousands of people in North America every year. Carbon monoxide poisoning is very deadly. In the United States, it is the leading cause of poisoning death.

This material is just for educational purposes. It should not be used to treat or manage a poisoning. If you or someone you're with has been exposed to anything poisonous, contact your local emergency number (such as 911), or call the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States to reach your local poison control center.

Ingredients That Are Poisonous

Carbon monoxide is a chemical that is created when natural gas or other carbon-containing materials are burned inefficiently. Exhaust, defective heaters, fires, and manufacturing pollutants are all examples of this.

Where Did You Find It?

Carbon monoxide may be produced by the following items:

  • Coal, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, or wood are all examples of fuels
  • Engines for automobiles
  • Grills with charcoal (charcoal should never be burned indoors)
  • Heating systems for indoor and portable use
  • Propane heaters on wheels
  • Cooking stoves (indoor and camp stoves)
  • Natural gas-fueled water heaters

Please keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive.


Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in your bloodstream when you breathe it in. The oxygen supply to your heart, brain, and body will be cut off.

Symptoms differ from one individual to the next. Young children, the elderly, persons with lung or heart illness, people who live at high elevations, and smokers are all at greater risk. Carbon monoxide may be harmful to a developing fetus (unborn baby still in the womb).

Carbon monoxide poisoning may cause the following symptoms:

  • Breathing difficulties, such as inability to breathe, shortness of breath, or fast breathing
  • Pain in the chest (may occur suddenly in people with angina)
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness and achiness in general
  • Headache
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Irritability
  • Blood pressure that is too low
  • Muscle deterioration
  • A fast or irregular pulse
  • Shock
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Unconsciousness

Carbon monoxide poisoning may also occur in animals. People who keep dogs at home may find that their pets become weak or unresponsive as a result of exposure to carbon monoxide. Frequently, pets get ill before people.

Because many of these symptoms are similar to those of viral infections, carbon monoxide poisoning is often misdiagnosed. This might cause a delay in receiving assistance.

Care At Home

If the victim has inhaled the poison, get him or her to fresh air as soon as possible. Seek medical help straight away.


Each level of your house should have a carbon monoxide detector. Install a second detector near any large gas-burning equipment (such as a furnace or water heater).

During the winter months, when furnaces, gas fireplaces, and portable warmers are utilized and windows are closed, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur often. Have heaters and gas-burning equipment examined on a regular basis to ensure that they are safe to use.

Prior To Making An Emergency Call

For emergency assistance, the following information is useful:

  • Age, weight, and physical condition (e.g., is the individual awake or alert?)
  • If you know how long they were exposed to carbon monoxide, let us know

If this information is not immediately accessible, DO NOT WAIT to contact for assistance.

Poison Prevention And Control

Call the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States to contact your local poison control center. They will provide you with more instructions.

This is a completely free and private service. This nationwide number is used by all poison control facilities throughout the United States. If you have any queries concerning poisoning or poison prevention, you should contact. You may reach us at any time of day or night, seven days a week.

What To Expect When You Visit the ER

The person's vital signs, such as temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure, will be measured and monitored by the health care practitioner. The following are possible rewards for the individual:

  • Oxygen, a breathing tube via the mouth (intubation), and a breathing machine are all examples of airway assistance (ventilator)
  • Tests of the blood and urine
  • ECG with chest x-ray (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Fluids are pumped via a vein (intravenous or IV)
  • Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) is a kind of oxygen therapy that (high-pressure oxygen given in a special chamber)
  • Medications to alleviate symptoms

Perspectives (Prognosis)

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a life-threatening condition. Those that survive have a long road ahead of them. The quantity and duration of carbon monoxide exposure determine how well a person behaves. It is possible that permanent brain damage may develop.

If the person's mental capacity is still affected after two weeks, the chances of a full recovery are slim. After 1 to 2 weeks of being symptom-free, impaired mental capacity might recur.