A guide to carbon monoxide...

Carbon monoxide poisoning
What family and friends must know

When family and friends make the effort to learn about the potential for "extra" symptoms and after effects of carbon monoxide poisoning it can make a huge difference to everyone.

Awareness, understanding, patience, and support is extremely valuable and can lessen the impact on survivors and those around them.

While a survivor may look "normal", sound "normal", appear "normal", they may be experiencing a range of [subtle] symptoms and after effects. It can take time to notice that they are functioning differently in comparison to their pre-poisoning life.

The injury may not be obvious but can still be very real. It only takes a slight turn of the steering wheel to drive a vehicle into the ditch or into oncoming traffic. Likewise, it only takes a small shift of the rudder and a sailboat can go way off course.

Similarly, the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning may shift a survivor enough to [significantly] alter the course of their life - and also the lives of the people around them.

People respond differently to the same level of carbon monoxide exposure. Because of this, after effects from CO poisoning can range from nothing to severe in people with the same level of exposure.

A person with a relatively low level of CO poisoning could experience lifelong effects and someone with an extreme level of CO poisoning may have a full recovery.

Recovery from poisoning can be a long road for some. There is no way to predict what will happen.

Medical doctors, toxicologists, and health professionals are quite aware of the extreme dangers of carbon monoxide while at unsafe levels in the body/bloodstream but as a group lack understanding as to the subtleties, real impact and long term symptoms of poisoning.

For a survivor and those close to them, learning about the potential for "extra" health effects caused by carbon monoxide poisoning together with self awareness and observation is the only way to proactively deal with the long term consequences of poisoning.

It is generally thought that a person with one-time mild to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning has a strong likelihood of full recovery without ongoing effects however:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning statistics are not reliable.

  • The ongoing impact of mild to moderate poisoning can be subtle yet still have a significant impact on a persons life (without the survivor or their family ever understanding that the poisoning was the turning point that altered the direction of their life).

  • The potential for ongoing symptoms is higher when the level of carbon monoxide exposure is high, extreme, multiple times, or over an extended period of time.

There are high risk factors that increase the likelihood of additional complications, symptoms, and suffering in the short, mid, and long term.

Ongoing effects can show themselves as a huge range of symptoms and have a life long impact. Becoming informed as to what could happen and what to look for is extremely important.

The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning may impact the brain and endocrine system, making it [much] more difficult for a person to function on a day to day basis.

Concentrating, reading, absorbing, memorizing information, completing tasks and other levels of functioning may be [much] more difficult.

Some survivors are impacted by carbon monoxide poisoning with a lowered sense of [self] awareness and may be unable to recognize or admit-to behavioral changes. The behavioral changes may be clear to others (especially people close to them).

Your comments about carbon monoxide poisoning...

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Questions? Want to share your opinion? Do it here...
experiencing it as I type
Mekdim from Addis Ababa , Ethiopia
Hi, currently experiencing CO2 poisoning ... I made the stupid mistake of lighting up an incense before I went to bed for about an hour . Then woke up after four and a half hours with a killer headache around 4:30 am. Every one was sound asleep . The last thing I remember is walking funny to get myself to the loo anx being on a toilet to relieve myself and then my mom found me passed out from there (with my clothes on). I made a point to get a lot of fresh air after I regained consciousness for about 40 minutes of so . Drinking water as well ..But I am not completely back to my normal self . My mental abilities is fine but speech and motor skills are slower . The more fresh O2 I get,.the better the symptoms get . I really lucked out , friends . Thought I would share and get feedback from survivors on how to proceed from now . You can also reach me at mekdiva@gmail.com.. Thanks .

CO poisoning ten years ago: decisions painfully hard
jay from USA
After ten years it's still very hard to process basic decisions or hold more than one idea in my mind to compare thoughts and make plans. I used to get lost, horrible headaches, ringing in ears, so many physical full scale issues. I was physically fit and very smart before car exhaust gasket gave way. I have been dependent on abuser for basic necessities ever since. I will never know if he deliberately messed with my car that time but he has since. I was going to leave him. Once I was so sick and almost paralzyed I married him instead. Bad plan. Take CO poisoning seriously, it ruined my life and I wish I'd gotten immediate care. it could have made the difference. Now, I struggle every day but appear fairly normal to others after years of therapy and everything I could learn, with so much pain and hardship, and people still have no idea what my daily life is like.

Who to see next?
Vickee Binstead from Queensland, Australia
Myself ,grandmother and great uncle suffered carbon monoxide poisoning when I was 14. I am 45 now and have noticed changes over the last 20 years have become more prominent and harder to deal with lately. The people I associate with did not know me at my time of illness so I think do not grasp what I am finding so hard now. I was found under my bed with my grandmother, our fingers bleeding from trying to claw our way out through the springs of my bed. My grandmother died and I spent a long time in hospital in a coma then in rehab working on my motoring skills. I improved to the point where I was no different to anyone else except I appeared and was uneducated because I just could not get anything to sink in. In the past ten years I have suffered seizures when I get hot and lately I have had symptoms my doc thought were hot flushes but tests have shown that I am not going through menopause. who do I see that is not going to sit there and shrug?

CO got me and my animals-BUT we are alive-HEATER
siobhan from california
My animals we gagging and throwing up and not eating. Even though I had the heater on in the cold I always left windows ajar for fresh air. I would leave the house and feel better AFTER throwing up, being sick to my stomach all the time, vision problems, headaches, dizzy, drowsiness, forgetful, lethargic all the time, shortness of breath, not hungry and should be, dragging feeling all the time. For some reason ever time the heater was on I got sick and the animals got ill too. I bought a CO detector and it went off three times. I turned off the heater and felt better right away and went outside for fresh air and felt better. I did not go to the hospital because of the animals and work and I am still sick and I am freezing because it is 48 in the house which just had construction due to floods. Not sure what to do now. Put heater on, take quick shower, call fire dept. 911 or what. lost and in a daze still. This happened over a period of time, thank God I kept windows open and the house has bad sealing in it, the weather stripping is horrible...If i closed the windows I would NOT be here writing this today, they would have found me and 3 animals dead. Still not sure what to do. I mat go to the ER for a CO blood test and level. Be Safe and get the CO monitors in your homes...My head, stomach and dizziness is still with me.

j.k.r. from CA/OR
This is very good and very thorough. I believe I am being exposed to carbon monoxide regularly...

Twin Brother
Mark from Monroe, Michigan
Thank you for putting this website together. My twin brother tried to commit suicide last night and is in treatment (hyperbaric) today for his second go around. I am just trying to figure out what to expect.

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