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Your Are Here: Pondered.org --> Personal & Well Being --> Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

Carbon monoxide is a potentially deadly gas, which is tasteless, colourless, and odourless, which means that it is very difficult to detect making it even more deadly. Often known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide is responsible for many deaths each year, with many unsuspecting people breathing in this gas and losing their lives to this gaseous killer. This is a common hazard that is related to the incomplete burning of natural gasses and carbon-based materials such as wood, coal, and kerosene. There are many sources of carbon monoxide, which can affect us in many environments, from the car to the office and the home, and pollution through carbon monoxide could easily result in death.

The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning can be devastating, and this gas can and dies kills thousands of people each year. Some people don’t even realise that they have been poisoned, simply slipping away in to unconsciousness or a deep sleep from which they will never reawaken. For those that don’t die, carbon monoxide poisoning can still cause long term damage and permanent damage and disability. It is advisable for everyone to learn about the effects of this poisoning, and more importantly how this poisoning comes about and how to minimize on the risks.

Some of the sources of carbon monoxide, which are varied, include:

  • The improper or incomplete burning of natural gas or carbon-based fuels such as propane, gasoline, kerosene, wood, coal, and charcoal.
  • Un-vented or improperly vented heaters and furnaces, which lead to an increase in carbon monoxide poisoning cases during the winter months.
  • Auto exhausts
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Faulty chimneys or fireplaces
  • Faulty fuel burning gadgets such as space heaters and gasoline engines
  • Gas appliances and heaters in small and enclosed spaces
  • Faulty central heating systems
  • Blockages that can cause improper ventilation in enclosed spaces where fuel is burned (e.g. kitchens, lounges with chimney blockage etc.)

How does carbon monoxide kill?

When carbon monoxide (CO) is breathed in it poisons the body by displacing the oxygen levels in the blood and effectively starving vital organs including the heart and brain of oxygen. This can cause loss of consciousness and suffocation, and breathing in a large amount of this gas can have a deadly effect in a matter of minutes.

Although the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can vary from person to person, there are some common symptoms, which include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of consciousness

If it is caught in time, carbon monoxide poisoning can be reversed, but depending on the level of CO breathed in can result in permanent damage to vital organs, such as the brain or the heart. Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it can kill you without you even knowing that it is present, which has earned it the name of the silent killer.

Long-term exposure to carbon monoxide in the home is not all that uncommon and causes thousands of deaths each year. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can often be mistaken as flu or a similar common ailment as these symptoms are generally non-specific. However, continued ingestion of CO within the home could eventually lead to heart or brain damage, or death. High levels of this gas can lead to death in just a few minutes, and even moderate levels can lead to a slow death.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is very difficult to detect and you could be receiving a dose of poisoning everyday in your home, office or car without even knowing it. Eventually this will lead to serious organ and neurological damage if not death. This is why it is so important that people take steps to learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatments for CO poisoning, in order to arm themselves as thoroughly as possible against this deadly and undetectable gas.

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