Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Symptoms, Risks and Prevention
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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Symptoms, Risks and Prevention

Learn common symptoms to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning as well as understanding risks and how to prevent toxic levels of the gas

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless and non-irritating gas that is responsible for more than five hundred fatalities every year in the United States. Knowing how to detect Carbon Monoxide can save you or those you love from the poisoning or death of the gas.

Those who suffer from the effects of Carbon Monoxide find it difficult to be treated due the fact many symptoms of poisoning mimic symptoms of other things so it becomes difficult to diagnose. As well, many medical professionals don't recognize the symptoms to be linked with Carbon Monoxide so the diagnosis becomes a misdiagnosis.

Awareness is essential to treatment but especially prevention. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk although CO poisoning can affect anyone.

Carbon monoxide happens when the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels, such as gas, coal, or oil leaks into the atmosphere of a home or building. Gas stoves, fires, heating boilers, gas-powered water heaters, paraffin heaters, and solid fuel-powered water heaters are all potential sources of carbon monoxide. Ventilation is key. Proper ventilation as well as up-to-date maintenance of old furnaces, stoves and heaters can prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

Blocked fuels or waste products that are a result of combustion that are not properly ventilated or removed can build up, causing a poisonous gas mixture that can re-enter a room, resulting in toxic levels of Carbon Monoxide. Older or unkempt homes are not the only victims. Newer homes with stoves or gas generated heat systems can be vulnerable to emitting toxic levels of this gas are also at risk.

Below is a list of common symptoms related to Carbon Monoxide poisoning:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach Pains
  • Chest Pain
  • Wheeziness
  • Hyperventilation
  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of Appetite

It is important to have the right testing equipment and avoid common mistakes in order to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

  1. Always make sure appliances and stoves are turned off completely
  2. Make sure the home or apartment is ventilated properly to prevent a build up of gasses
  3. Check to make sure there are no black marks along the appliance or wall if using a gas appliance. This is an indication of build-up
  4. Check to make sure that any gas range or stove does not emit a yellow light instead of a blue light. This is an indication of leakage
  5. Check for black soot along stove pipes, including wood stoves that could potentially leak harmful smoke or gasses back into the home
  6. Pay attention if you or those in the home experience any of the above symptoms while in the home, but appear to have "cleared" symptoms when out of the home, especially if the symptoms occur after you have returned to the home
  7. Invest in a Carbon Monoxide tester which can be purchased over the counter for home building or supply stores
  8. Install your appliances professionally to avoid and prevent gaps within gas lines or stove pipes
  9. Recognize the early symptoms, especially if more than one family member experiences them

Seek medical help immediately if you or your family members have been exposed to Carbon Monoxide or have experienced one or more of the listed symptoms. Awareness is key and it's essential to teach even young children in the home about Carbon Monoxide.

You may also want to explore Lead Poisoning- Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors and Complications

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Comments (4)
Ranked #3 in First Aid & CPR

Great to know this odorless poison, like/tweet/stumbled.

Everything you said is true but (there's always a "but") you didn't mention installing CO detectors in the home or other structure. A CO tester is an instrument used intermittently to test for the presence of the gas. A CO detector monitors the environment 24-hours a day and sound an alert if there is a dangerous build-up of CO gas. Carbon Monoxide detectors can be purchased at home centers, hardware stores and Big Box stores for $30 to $30 each and you can install them yourself with nothing more than a screwdriver.

I agree CO is a killer. In fact not a silent but rather explicit killer. Thanks Debbie for building awareness.

Thanks everyone. you're right Jerry, thank you for the additional information.