FAQ - Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
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What are the actual causes of carbon monoxide poisoning? and how serious is it actually?

I was told bymy doctor that my headaches and light-headedness is either tension headaches or Carbon monoxide poisoning - I'm pretty sure it's tension as I have no gas heaters or anything in my flat, but its just got my curious about carbon monoxide - if my headaches were caused by it, how serious would it get? I know if there is a lot of carbon monoxide, it can cause death but would the headaches turn into more over time?
I don't smoke either by the way!
Again, I have no gas heaters, gas cookers, nothing gas at all in my flat - I will get a detector although my grandparents lived in the flat for 25 years and never had any bother - as I say, i'm about 90% sure it's the tension headaches but was just curious!!
Going to get my blood checked tomorrow anyway for it :)

It can build up in your system and make you very ill and over time could kill you. Buy a CO detector and see if you have a problem in your flat.  (+ info)

Why does carbon monoxide poisoning produce a rosy cheeks?

I'm writing a paper on carbon monoxide poisoning and the details are sketchy on this topic.

phoenixgal - The reason is that when carbon monoxide is breath into the lungs, it passes from the lung alveolar spaces and into the blood capillaries where it has a much stronger ability to combine with hemoglobin in the red cells, taking priority over oxygen. The result is a combination that produces a compound called carboxyhemoglobin which blocks out normal oxygen and produces a red colored compound in the red cells which flow through the skin capillaries of the cheek and other body areas, Death results from lack of oxygen in the red blood cells throughout the body and all its tissues which develop a red coloration..  (+ info)

What are the physical effects of carbon monoxide poisoning before death?

After the body was removed from the vehicle there was blood present in & on the side of the vehicle, and drops of blood on the ground. Why would blood be present from carbon monoxide poisoning? Also, by running a hose from the tailpipe through the window of the vehicle and sealing the window, how long would it take for death?
Would the person be able to turn the key off but not able to open the door? The vehicle was turned off but the doors were locked when the person was found. Could they have decided not to go thru with it, had the mobility to turn off the car and not had enough mobility to open the door?
This was an apparent suicide but there wasn't a note found and I have alot of questions. The presence of blood, the key turned off, the doors locked?......all of these things really puzzle me.



As colorless as the air, this sudden killer is responsible for 700 fatalities a year in the United States. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is not to be confused with Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which is responsible for the bubbles in your gingerale. CO is a product of inefficiently burnt fuels that are created by an appliance or heating unit in the home. One in five deaths by CO poisoning can be attributed to a malfunctioning appliance, either due to poor maintenance or a design fault. Carbon Monoxide is the inevitable by-product of the burning of all carbon based fuels, and the less of it that is in the air, the better.

CO is deadly because it is not detectable to the five human senses. To confuse matters more, symptoms of CO poisoning mimic common every day ailments such as migraine headaches or the flu. This insidious threat to home safety is responsible for 113,333 emergency situations in the U.S. every year. There are two basic types of carbon monoxide poisoning, ACUTE and CHRONIC.


ACUTE CO poisoning is rarely detected until its victims become quite ill. In this kind of scenario, a heating unit or appliance breaks down and emits lethal levels of gas in a short time. The severity of the symptoms varies depending on the concentration of the gas in the air. The chart below gives you an idea of when to suspect that CO is the culprit behind your discomfort.

The numbers below represent the concentration or amount of CO that is in the air as per parts per million (ppm) followed by its physical effects:

* At 35 ppm - No adverse effects until after about 8 hours of exposure
* At 200 ppm - Mild headache after 2-3 hours of exposure
* At 800 ppm - Headache, nausea and dizziness at 45 minutes. Physical collapse at 2 hours.
* At 1000 ppm - Loss of consciousness at 1 hour.
* At 3200 ppm - Dizziness and nausea at10 minutes. Loss of consciousness occurs at 30 minutes.
* 12,800 ppm - Collapse, loss of consciousness and death after 1-3 minutes of exposure.

CHRONIC CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms of long-term exposure mimic common disorder such as the flu. Long-term exposure to smaller amounts of CO has been associated with diabetes and brain damage. There is a middle range of slightly higher exposure over a shorter period of time. In this scenario, a gas heater breaks down and an entire family can suffer nausea and dizziness over a period of two weeks indicating that it might be from CO leak.

Persistent symptoms of CO poisoning include

* Fatigue
* Dizziness
* Nausea
* Vomiting
* Confusion
* Convulsions
* Respiratory problems
* Rapid breathing
* Persistent cough
* Concentration problems
* Hallucinations
* Panic attacks
* Clumsiness
* Severe muscle pains
* Trembling
* Vision problems


CO takes its victims by surprise so poisoning is as hard to predict as any act of fate. However, there are measures you can take to immediately allay the severity of the situation.

* First and foremost, outfit your home and garage with a CO detector. Human beings are unable to smell CO so these devices act as a second nose. These devices resemble a fire alarm and sound off at the first subtle whiff of gas.
* Have a qualified professional regularly check your heating systems, chimneys, furnaces, stoves and cookers for flaws, leaks, efficiency and structural weaknesses.
* Be mindful and observant. For example, if you suspect your furnace is not working, don't use it until it is fixed.
* Be a savvy consumer. Before purchasing a major appliance, check with the manufacturer or a consumer safety groups to see if the brand has a good reputation.


Carbon monoxide poisoning is accidental, and you should prepare for it just as you would any other catastrophe that might strike without warning. As is the case with fires, it is a good idea to make sure that all doors windows and exits are kept free of obstacles. Keeping a window open, while using appliances such as tabletop gas cookers is also a good idea.


If at any time you feel you have been exposed to dangerous carbon monoxide fumes you should remove yourself from the area immediately and seek medical assistance. In this case, it is also advisable to open doors and break windows to let fresh air in and speed evacuation.

Emergency treatment for acute CO poisoning almost always includes keeping the victim warm as well as dosing them with supplemental oxygen via a mask.  (+ info)

Can carbon monoxide poisoning cause a stroke?

My father-in-law recently suffered a stroke. Two days prior, he was working in the hold of his boat working on the engine, along with two other people. The hold is enclosed and the engine was running. Some of them started having a headache. My father-in-law shooed them out and he finished up in a few more minutes. For the next couple of days he complained of his stomach not feeling right. Then as he was walking up some steps, he fell and became unconscious for just a minute. Ambulance came. He was disoriented and threw up. Still in hospital but improving.

I'll add that he does take several high blood pressure medications, but has no history of strokes. (Blood pressure was high when ambulance came.) I know that we may never know, because it could have all been blood pressure related, but is/are there any definitive studies linking carbon monoxide poisoning and strokes?

The Carbon monoxide steals away the oxygen in the blood, resulting in red coloration of skin. Hence it deprived heart and brain in fact whole body of its Oxygen, so you are correct.  (+ info)

What are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

My mom is a truck driver, and right now her assignment is driving a really horrible former delivery van on a carnival. She thinks she may have carbon monoxide poisoning. What sites are there where I can get information on this? She is suffering memory loss and several other things. I don't know the det's...my dad asked me to look it up :) thank you!

dizziness, nausea, headache, confusion  (+ info)

How do I know if I should get checked for carbon monoxide poisoning?

I'm scared I might have some kind of co2 poisoning. I just had a fire in my home two days ago and the firefighters said there mat be a low leak of carbon monoxide, and I'm scared I may be being exposed to too much carbon monoxide

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) are only present during a fire unless you have an appliance using natural gas or LPG. Otherwise these gases aren't going to be present in your home after the fire. If you feel nauseated, dizzy, fatigued, and your skin is showing a cherry red color, you should seek medical attention fast as these are the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning.  (+ info)

Can you get memory loss from carbon monoxide poisoning?

A year ago i got carbon monoxide poisoning and ever sense then i can't remember some things. If i put something down (like important papers or shoes) a couple hours later, I can't remember where i put them. I also have a hard time remembering appointments and where buildings or companies used to be. Can the carbon monoxide poisoning have caused that. It was bad enough that i had to be hospitalized.

In a word, yes. Damage easily, and likely was done. You might want to explore with your doctor the use of antidepressents. At the same time, much of what your experiencing is normal to an extent, so don't be too hasty in finding blame for what is is a common problem. Do not dwell on it and continue to enjoy life and look forward to every day.  (+ info)

Can you get carbon monoxide poisoning from an electric heater or only gas?

We have electric central air and heat and I need to know if carbon monoxide poisoning applies only to gas heaters or if electric heaters are at risk too.

Carbon Monoxide is only produced by gas. Not electric. Do you have a gas line some where else in your house. Like a stove, fire place, water heater. If so, they can produce Carbon Monoxide. If your house is all electric, you don't have anything to worry about unless you park your car in the garage with the garage door shut and the car running. lol  (+ info)

How long do you need to be exposed to carbon monoxide to develop carbon monoxide poisoning?

Because I just tried to make something in my oven but when I turned it on it made this hissing noise like gas was leaking out of it, I kept it on for maybe 30 seconds not realizing what was happening at first. After I turned it off I opened the oven and got a whiff of gas, I quickly shut it and ran to the window to get fresh air. Am I at risk of developing carbon monoxide poisoning?

no but you can get it very fast the thing is you would be getting sick to your stomach and first of all you can't smell the stuff it kills and it take about 15 or 20 minutes i would think maybe less. you have to breathe it in and stuff but its fast.  (+ info)

What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

I have recently moved into a new property..which has acentral heating fitted all new when i moved in..yet it has had to be replaced allready because of a fault in the boiler! I'am concerned about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning....I dont know the fact's and I have a little boy so it worries me! Please help...x.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms
Exposure to carbon monoxide is most commonly accompanied by the following symptoms:

Flulike symptoms, fatigue
Shortness of breath on exertion
Impaired judgment
Chest pain




Abdominal pain


Visual changes



Memory and walking problems

When to Seek Medical Care
Call a doctor if you have signs and symptoms that may indicate exposure to carbon monoxide. If you have any of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, go to a hospital emergency department, particularly if several people in the household are affected, or if pets are affected as well.

Self-Care at Home

Move to fresh air away from the source of carbon monoxide (CO).
No home therapy is available for CO poisoning.
You must seek medical care in a hospital emergency department.

Your best protection is to install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm on each level of your home as your first line of defense. Some 93% of homes have smoke alarms, yet only 26% have CO alarms. A CO monitor with an audible alarm works much like a home smoke alarm and beeps loudly when the sensors detect CO.

If the alarm sounds, evacuate the building. People who have symptoms of CO poisoning should seek emergency medical care. Call the fire department or public service company to investigate.

Inspect your home for hazards.

Your home heating system, chimney, and flue must be inspected and cleaned by a qualified technician every year. Keep chimneys clear of bird and squirrel nests, leaves, and residue to ensure proper ventilation.

Be sure your furnace and other appliances, such as gas ovens, ranges, and cooktops, are inspected for adequate ventilation.

Do not burn charcoal inside your house even in the fireplace. Have gas fireplaces inspected each fall to ensure the pilot light burns safely.

Do not operate gasoline-powered engines in confined areas such as garages or basements. Do not leave your car, mower, or other vehicle running in an attached garage, even with the door open.

Do not block or seal shut exhaust flues or ducts for appliances such as water heaters, ranges, and clothes dryers.  (+ info)

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