Of all the silent killers in the world, poisoning caused by Carbon monoxide definitely forms a distinct one. Being non-irritating in nature, sans colour, taste as well as odour it is bound to be brushed off as a harmless gas. Despite seemingly innocuous properties, carbon monoxide remains a toxic gas.
Its low level is acceptable to both, the environment as well as the human system. The problem arises when the hard to detect gas (which forms due to an incomplete process of combustion that lacks sufficient oxygen) is inhaled above nine parts per million (PPM) over a long duration.
The very initial symptom stems after a few hours of either intentional or accidental exposure to the poisonous gas. The below mentioned content covers the symptoms of both acute and chronic or long term carbon monoxide poisoning and aim at making the readers more aware of the possible harmful effects of such exposures.
Even with carbon monoxide levels ranging at and above 35 ppm, the initial symptoms of poisoning begin to develop. Headache is a manifestation that is most commonly reported by all patients who survived the deadly gas. The nature of headache is often described as dull (sometimes sharp or throbbing), mostly confined to the frontal aspect and lasts for an extended time (in 74 percent of the cases).
The initiation and intensity of the headache along with other symptoms are directly proportional to the level of carbon monoxide the individual was subjected to. This symptom has potential to subside to a great extent after treatment with hyperbaric oxygen.
The initial symptoms of headache and/or nausea noted are often misdiagnosed as food poisoning or the flu. Unsafe levels of carbon monoxide make patients of all age groups experience dizziness too.
Individuals who are unknowingly subjecting themselves to harmful levels of carbon monoxide in their homes or workplace begin to experience varying degrees of fatigue and malaise.
If you have been feeling completely worn out repeatedly without incurring other flu related symptoms such as high fever, you must consult a doctor immediately.
The heart is one of the organs that are impacted by high level of carbon monoxide. The varied cardiovascular symptoms seen in such air poisoning take place due to the abnormal displacement of oxygen by carbon monoxide. This results in an oxygen and nutrient deficit which is medically known as hypoxia. The increased intake of carbon monoxide within the body consequently reduces the much needed oxygen supply.
As a result, symptoms such as an elevated heart rate (tachycardia) and irregularity in the heartbeat begin to surface. The affected person becomes increasingly aware of his or her raised or abnormally lowered frequency of the heartbeat which is commonly described as ‘palpitation’. In severe cases, patient may experience cardiac arrest which is characterized by an abrupt cessation in the normal flow of blood as the muscles of the heart fail to contract properly.
If you have inhaled an elevated level of the gas being discussed, it is most likely you will begin to notice changes in respiration too.
Many complain of difficulty in breathing accompanied b shortness of breath, even without much physical activity.
Symptoms related to the nervous system are not apparent instantly but take time. Some of the neurological symptoms include loss of short term memory, variation in normal behaviour as well as overall personality. The noxious effects of the gas can affect the cells and tissues in the nervous system that later give rise to symptoms such as that of mental confusion, sudden episodes of disorientation along with loss of balance and sometimes seizures too.
Those affected many a time report clumsiness whilst walking and is one of the many symptoms that are included in the ‘delayed neurological syndrome’ such patients’ experience.
As the gas is difficult to detect, many people are constantly exposing their system to more than the recommended level of carbon monoxide.
This is the reason why such patients experience symptoms linked to depression. They feel dejected, agitated and exhausted most of the times. Some begin to experience extreme variations in their mood and also find it tough to deal with stress.
Carbon monoxide poisoning survivors frequently experience the above mentioned syndrome which is marked by a few characteristic symptoms. These include enhanced sensitivity towards to normal stimuli such as light, chemicals, sound, temperature (both hot and cold), pressure and rarely electromagnetic fields. Post poisoning, even minimal levels of carbon monoxide can cause them to over react.