Carbon monoxide poisoning


Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when an excessive amount of carbon monoxide accumulates in the bloodstream. When the air contains high levels of carbon monoxide, it replaces the oxygen in red blood cells. This can result in severe damage to tissues and potentially lead to death.

Carbon monoxide is a gas that is invisible, odorless, and tasteless. It is produced when fuels like gas, wood, propane, or charcoal are burned. Poorly ventilated appliances and engines can cause the gas to accumulate to dangerous levels. The situation worsens when there is limited airflow in an enclosed space.

If someone is exposed to carbon monoxide, it is crucial to move them to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention. In cases where an individual is in a coma or unable to respond, emergency medical services should be contacted without delay.


The brain and heart are the two organs most impacted by carbon monoxide overdose. With repeated exposure, it’s possible to develop flu-like symptoms without a temperature. Clearer signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include the following:

  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting

The neurological system and the brain may experience symptoms following the recovery from carbon monoxide poisoning. Older persons and adults who have lost consciousness from carbon monoxide are at higher risk for these. Some indications include:

  • Movement issues
  • Loss of memory
  • Alterations in personality

Carbon monoxide poisoning poses significant risks, particularly for individuals who are asleep, under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This toxic gas can lead to brain damage or even death without early detection, making it crucial to be aware of the potential dangers.


Carbon monoxide is produced by many fuel-burning products and engines. Generally, the amount of carbon monoxide emitted is not a cause for concern in well-ventilated areas. However, if these products are used without proper ventilation or in unsafe ways, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur. This can happen if you leave your car running in a closed garage, if your vehicle’s exhaust system is blocked, or if you use kerosene heaters or gas barbecue grills indoors. When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it replaces oxygen in the blood, leading to a lack of oxygen supply to the body’s tissues and organs. In addition to these sources, breathing in smoke during a fire or smoking through a hookah can also result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Risk factors

For the following people, breathing carbon monoxide can be very risky:

  • Babies in the womb. Compared to adult blood cells, fetal blood cells more readily absorb carbon monoxide.
  • Infants and children. Children breathe more frequently than adults do.
  • Older adults. Brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning may be more likely to occur in older people.
  • Having other health problems. Having anemia, chronic heart disease or breathing problems.
  • Other risk factors. Smoking, living in high altitudes, or having jobs with high carbon monoxide levels (e.g., police officers, forklift operators, firefighters, welders, taxi drivers, garage mechanics, or toolbooth attendants) have higher risk of having carbon monoxide poisoning.