Carbon monoxide poisoning is often the result of malfunctioning or leaking combustion engines, which are used to power various household appliances and vehicles.
Since the gas is odorless and colorless, carbon monoxide leaks can go unnoticed until those exposed to the gas begin experiencing symptoms of poisoning, including nausea, fatigue, headaches and confusion. When the gas is ingested, it deprives the body of oxygen and causes cell death throughout the body, a condition known as hypoxia.
Unlike most cells, though, brain cells do not regenerate after hypoxia, putting carbon monoxide poisoning victims at risk for serious side effects, including brain injuries or death.
If you or someone you love was the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning, fill out our free, no-risk case review form today.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms Include Nausea, Fatigue and Confusion
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Low blood pressure
- Ataxia (uncoordinated movement)
- Syncope (fainting)
- Loss of consciousness
- Malaise (general discomfort or lack of well-being)
Contrary to popular belief, carbon monoxide poisoning and consequent brain damage can occur even without a loss of consciousness. In fact, some patients who are exposed to very high levels of carbon monoxide will notice few signs or symptoms of poisoning.
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms may also go unnoticed since they are often confused with those of the flu. Even doctors may have a difficult time diagnosing carbon monoxide poisoning, as victims will report symptoms consistent with brain damage, even though they never suffered a head trauma, fall, or other traumatic event.
Groups who are at a higher risk for developing carbon monoxide poisoning include babies and young children, pregnant women, and those with heart or lung problems.
What Are the Effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning on the Body and Brain?
The brain and heart can be deprived of oxygen when carbon monoxide is ingested, because the gas has a high affinity for hemoglobin (the principal oxygen-carrying compound in the blood). This means that when the gas is ingested, hemoglobin prefers binding to carbon monoxide, rather than oxygen. Therefore, the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood is inhibited, preventing transportation of oxygen throughout the body.
Many believe that once they are removed from carbon monoxide exposure, they will recover and stop experiencing poisoning side effects; however, many oxygen deprivation side effects are permanent, and some can be fatal.
Respiratory, cardiac, ocular and immune system problems can result from stress and inflammation that occurs when the body is deprived of oxygen, and there are several types of sequelae (conditions that are the consequence of previous diseases or injuries) that can develop following exposure to the gas, including:
- Cognitive issues
- Depression, anxiety, and psychosis
- Motor issues
- Coordination issues
- Vestibular disorders
- Hearing loss
- Visual disturbances
What Treatments Are Available to Test for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
To determine whether patients have carbon monoxide poisoning, doctors may perform a number of tests involving speech, heart and lung function. They may also perform the following:
- Sleep studies
- Image studies on the brain and heart
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) tests
- Vestibular and neurology tests
- Psychiatry and neuropsychiatry studies
If patients are found to have carbon monoxide poisoning, they may receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase the levels of oxygen in their blood; however, oxygen treatment does not necessarily prevent sequelae, and patients may still develop permanent neurological problems and other side effects if they were exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide.
If you believe you are suffering from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, our attorneys would like to hear from you. If another individual or entity was negligent in causing your injuries, we may be able to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for medical bills and pain and suffering. Fill out our free case review form today for more information.