Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is an illness caused by exposure to too much carbon monoxide — a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. Too much carbon monoxide in the air you breathe can greatly diminish your ability to absorb oxygen, leading to serious tissue damage. Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to death.

Carbon monoxide is produced by appliances and other devices that generate combustion fumes, such as those that burn gas or other petroleum products, wood and other fuels. The danger occurs when too much carbon monoxide accumulates in a contained, poorly ventilated space.

Although the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can be subtle, the condition is a life-threatening medical emergency. Get immediate care for anyone who may have carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be especially dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated. The fumes may be fatal before anyone realizes there's a problem.

When to see a doctor

If you suspect you've been exposed to carbon monoxide, get into fresh air immediately and seek emergency medical care. If possible, open windows and doors on the way out of the house.

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