What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning? But first, why does it happen?
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning happens when the bloodstream of individuals has elevated content and buildup of carbon monoxide. When this occurs, the human body will usually substitute oxygen with carbon monoxide. Excessive carbon monoxide in the body and in the red blood cells may result in severe damage to the tissues, health decline and consequently, to an individual’s death.
Carbon Monoxide is a form or gas that is tasteless and colorless. Moreover, it has no odor or smell, making it difficult to be outrightly detected by the human senses. This gas is usually produced through the burning of various substances such as wood, gasoline, charcoal, and propane. These sources of fuel, when improperly circulated in an enclosed area or room, can result in an extremely dangerous and health hazardous environment. Elevated levels of the said gas may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Signs and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may be subtle and not very easily noticed. Hence, it is important to carefully check any individuals suspected of having or experiencing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.
Some of these signs and symptoms to look out for are a weakened state, dull or slowly pounding headache, vomiting, nausea, a vision that is blurred, fainting or loss of consciousness and shortness of breath. All of these symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can especially be dangerous for people who are asleep or for those who are drunk or under the influence of alcohol as these individuals may suffer severe damage to the brain and possibly die even before anyone can recognize the extreme health condition they experienced.
Individuals who are suspected to have carbon monoxide poisoning should immediately be taken out to an open area with clear circulating air and should immediately be attended to by a healthcare professional or doctor the soonest possible time. The complications of carbon monoxide poisoning will vary depending on the length of time of an individual’s exposure and the amount of carbon monoxide actually inhaled by the individuals. These complications include heart damage, miscarriage or fetus death, brain damage, and death.
Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon Monoxide poisoning usually happens or occurs to individuals who have inhaled elevated amounts of combustion fumes. Once individuals have inhaled elevated amounts of the said gas, their bodies will replace the oxygen present in their red blood cells with that of Carbon Monoxide. The replacement of oxygen with carbon monoxide in red blood cells will result in the cessation of oxygen distribution to the tissues and organs of the body.
Different motor vehicles and home appliances produce combustion fumes or carbon monoxide and they are usually harmless at normal levels and in well-circulated areas or rooms. They can become a cause for concern, however, if the said appliances and motor vehicle engines are in an enclosed area or room. It may result in the accumulation of Carbon Monoxide within the breathing space and may raise carbon monoxide to dangerous levels. Smoke from building or structure fires can also be a cause for carbon monoxide poisoning as too much smoke can also elevate the carbon monoxide levels in an individual’s bloodstream.
What are some of the risk factors for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Elevated levels of carbon monoxide are generally dangerous for humans. However, there are a few types of individuals who may have an increased risk factor when exposed to increased levels of carbon monoxide. Listed below are some of these individuals:
- Children: Young Children tend to breathe or inhale and exhale more than adults and this may increase their chances of inhaling more carbon monoxide into their system
- Babies in the Womb: Fetuses or babies in the womb are more sensitive to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning making them more susceptible to the adverse effects of carbon monoxide.
- Individuals with chronic heart disease: Increased carbon monoxide levels can greatly affect people with breathing problems and anemia compared to those who don’t.
- Old people: Older adults are more likely to experience the adverse health effects of carbon monoxide poisoning such as brain and tissue damage compared to those who are younger.
- People who have a higher tendency of losing consciousness: Individuals or people who have a higher tendency of losing their consciousness when exposed to increased levels of Carbon monoxide are at a higher risk of experiencing the adverse effects of Carbon monoxide poisoning such as damage to the brain and death.
How do we prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning can be extremely dangerous but there are ways to prevent the said adverse health condition. Enumerated below are some of the things we can do to prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors may be installed: The detection of carbon monoxide levels present in the breathing space of an area is important if we want to prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning. As such, the installation of Carbon Monoxide detectors may greatly help individuals prevent the occurrence of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Prior to turning on a vehicle’s engine, it is best to open garage doors first: Opening the doors of the garage right before turning on a motor vehicle’s engine may help prevent the build-up of high levels of carbon monoxide in a confined space, possibly preventing the occurrence of Carbon monoxide poisoning for individuals still in the garage.
Gas appliances should only be used as intended by the manufacturer: Gas camp stoves should only be used outdoors while gas-powered stoves should only be used for cooking and preparing meals and not for heating the home. This will greatly reduce the risk of carbon monoxide buildup and avoid dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide inside a confined space such as a residence or home.
Observe caution when using solvents at home or at a construction site: Solvents may produce Carbon Monoxide during metabolization. When using solvents, individuals are encouraged to ensure that the area is well ventilated before using the said compounds within the area.