Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste. Breathing it in can make you unwell, and it can kill if you’re exposed to high levels.
After carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters your bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body) to form carboxyhaemoglobin.
When this happens, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen, and this lack of oxygen causes the body’s cells and tissue to fail and die.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are not always obvious, particularly during low-level exposure.
A tension-type headache is the most common symptom of mild carbon monoxide poisoning.
Other symptoms include:
- feeling and being sick
- tiredness and confusion
- stomach pain
- shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
But unlike flu, carbon monoxide poisoning does not cause a high temperature.
The symptoms can gradually get worse with prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide, leading to a delay in diagnosis.
Your symptoms may be less severe when you’re away from the source of the carbon monoxide.
If this is the case, you should investigate the possibility of a carbon monoxide leak and ask a suitably qualified professional to check any appliances you think may be faulty and leaking gas.
The longer you inhale the gas, the worse your symptoms will be. You may lose balance, vision and memory and, eventually, you may lose consciousness.
What causes carbon monoxide to leak?
- gas fires
- central heating systems
- water heaters
- open fires
MCP First Aid Training provides training courses suitable for all.