Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas with neither a taste nor smell. The symptoms of CO poisoning are also easily mistaken as being caused by something else. Because of this, it can be quite difficult to recognise when you may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Fatal if inhaled in large amounts, carbon monoxide poisoning kills around 25 people each year in England and Wales. CO alarms are able to detect and alert you to dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide, but even so, it’s beneficial to recognise the signs and symptoms of poisoning.
The longer you are exposed to carbon monoxide, the more severe the symptoms are. It’s important to recognise them straight away and seek medical help as soon as possible.
Due to how fatal CO poisoning can be, before letting anyone undertake gas work on your home, it’s essential you ensure they’re gas safe.
The most common early warning sign of carbon monoxide will present itself as a dull headache. It’s easy to ignore headaches, so pay attention to if they seem to strike in a particular place, your home, work, etc.
Dizziness is common in the early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning. It can also lead to loss of consciousness and fainting.
Nausea or Vomiting
Like headaches and dizziness, vomiting is also an early sign of CO poisoning. Noticeable as CO poisoning due to the lack of fever accompanying it.
A build-up of carbon monoxide can impact a person’s ability to think straight. This can lead to confusion, memory problems and impaired judgement.
Shortness of Breath
As carbon monoxide poisoning becomes more severe, it can cause shortness of breath or rapid breathing. There may also a feeling of tightening or pain in the chest area.
Common in severe cases of carbon monoxide poisoning blurred vision occurs as a lack of oxygen affects the brain.
A seizure, defined as “a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain”, occurs in near-fatal situations. Medical help should be sought immediately.