Hepatitis C

Carbon monoxide: Is prolonged exposure harmful?

Fact Checked

Being exposed to carbon monoxide for long periods of time can make anyone sick or can be fatal. It is important to note that carbon monoxide poisoning is the most prevalent type of poisoning in the world. It is a gas that could not be seen, tasted or even smelled. Carbon monoxide is present in motor exhaust, smoke and smog.

Carbon monoxide blocks oxygen from reaching areas it needs to enter the bloodstream. The red blood cells that transport oxygen are highly attracted to the gas. Those who suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning die since not enough oxygen reaches the heart and the brain.

How do I know if an individual is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning is difficult to diagnose. The indications of this type of poisoning appears similar to the flu such as body aches, headache, nausea and fatigue but without the fever. The deceptive nature of the gas affects every individual slightly different, thus unless a doctor suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, it is usually overlooked.

The level of carbon monoxide in the blood is easy to measure but rapidly drops. Just a few hours of starting to breathe in fresh air, the blood levels of carbon monoxide can be low. The only way to diagnose the condition is to interview the individual, perform a physical exam and suspect if for some reason. Remember that it is easier to recognize the condition when more than one individual in the house also manifests symptoms.

Carbon monoxide poisoning
The indications of this type of poisoning appears similar to the flu such as body aches, headache, nausea and fatigue but without the fever.

How to detect the poisoning?

In circumstances in which the initial indication of trouble is pinpointing the existence of carbon monoxide before any individual shows any signs of poisoning, it is natural for most to wonder if any if there is indeed any damage done.

It is sad to note that there is no answer to the question even today. There are limited studies that attempted to identify the symptoms among those who were exposed to the gas but did not complain of anything. It is a known fact that carbon monoxide affects the heart and the muscular function in both low and high concentrations, but it is still not known if there is any lasting damage from prolonged exposure to low levels.

Take note that exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide that could not even trigger any symptoms might damage the body, but it is still not known to what degree or in what manner. At the present, there are no specific treatment for the after effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. The doctor usually tries to manage the symptoms one by one until further research in conducted. At the meantime, it is vital to pay close attention to the body and the mind as well as installing a carbon monoxide detector.

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