Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of materials such as petroleum gas. When you breathe in carbon monoxide, the blood is less able to carry oxygen around the body, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and possibly even death. Many appliances in a home can release CO when faulty, such as gas appliances or heating systems, and this is why carbon monoxide poisoning is reasonably common in the home, killing around 50 people in the United Kingdom each year.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Some of the signs of CO poisoning resemble the signs of flu or food poisoning, including mild or severe headaches and abdominal pains, dizziness, nausea and coughing. This is one of the reasons why carbon monoxide poisoning is such a silent killer, because many people do not recognise the symptoms of CO poisoning for what they are.
If the poisoning is severe, the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include an increased heart rate, confusion, drowsiness, hyperventilation, difficulty breathing, seizures and unconsciousness.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Treatment
CO poisoning starts as soon as a blood test has detected that there are dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in the blood. Treatment involves ensuring that the person is away from the source of the carbon monoxide and potentially providing life support if the poisoning is serious and severe. Although many people survive carbon monoxide poisoning, around 50% of those with severe poisoning suffer long term effects.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention
The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to ensure your appliances are in full working order. It is possible to purchase carbon monoxide detector/detectors, some companies and organisations even provide them for free, and these will be able to tell you if the levels of CO in your home are becoming dangerously high, allowing you sufficient time to detect and correct the source of the carbon monoxide.
Another common source of COcarbon monoxide is the exhaust fumes of cars and motorcycles. This is why it is extremely important to never leave a car running inside a garage, where the fumes could potentially linger and cause devastating effects.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is still all too common, particularly for such a preventable illness. Ensure your appliances are regularly maintained and serviced and if you notice any symptoms, do not immediately assume that you have the flu. Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill!