Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Carbon monoxide, also called CO, is a poisonous gas. It has no odor, no taste, and no color . Carbonmonoxide poisoning is a life-threatening condition caused by inhaling too much CO.
What is going on in the body?
CO is produced when a fuel is burned. Fuels include gas, oil, kerosene, charcoal, or wood.CO may be found in a number of items that people come in contact with each day. These include:
If fresh air is limited and CO is released in the air, it can reach a dangerouslyhigh level. When CO is inhaled, it enters the bloodstream and attaches to a blood cell protein calledhemoglobin. Hemoglobin helps blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If COattaches to hemoglobin, the blood cells can’t carry oxygen. The body then can’t function in a healthyway.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
CO poisoning can occur when small amounts of CO are inhaled over a long time. It can alsooccur when large amounts of CO are absorbed over a short time, especially in a closed setting such as agarage or car.
Symptoms & Signs
What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
Symptoms linked with CO poisoning include:
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the condition diagnosed?
A history of activity or illness as well as a complete physical exam help the doctor to diagnose thiscondition. A series of blood tests called an arterial blood gastest can measure the oxygen and CO levels in the blood. Other blood or X-ray tests can check theextent of the CO poisoning and rule out other conditions.
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the condition?
Since CO is odorless and colorless, a person may not realize he or she is aroundharmful levels of CO. The following actions can help prevent CO poisoning:
What are the long-term effects of the condition?
Long-term effects of CO exposure depend on the extent of the poisoning and howquickly it is treated. Long-term effects may include damage to the brain, heart, or lungs.There may also be short-term memory loss. These effects usually improve over time but may be lasting.
What are the risks to others?
Any persons near the person who has CO poisoning mayalso have been exposed to the CO, and should be checked by their doctors.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the condition?
First, the person needs to be moved away from the CO and into fresh air.Further treatment depends on the extent of poisoning, but may include:
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects will depend on the treatments used. For instance, steroids may causeirritability, weight gain,or stomach upset. A ventilatorcan cause lasting lung problems.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
Often a person will get better with no need for further treatment.Physical therapy orother treatments may be needed for problems such as paralysis andmemory loss.
How is the condition monitored?
Close monitoring is needed in cases of CO poisoning. Some peopleexperience delayed symptoms, such as:
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.
Article type: xmedgeneral