What is carbon monoxide poisoning? Well, ‘Silent Killer’ is a phrase which aptly describes carbon monoxide as an invisible odorless gas that kills without warning. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you inhale this gas and it enters your bloodstream via the lungs when it is absorbed by oxygen carrying red blood cells. The major concern for health experts is that since the side effects can be easily confused with symptoms of other health problems, a lot of people can take for granted what they feel occasionally and sweep nausea or dizziness under the rug. However, the fact that over 500 people die every year due to carbon monoxide poisoning means that awareness needs to be raised, and quickly.
Where Does This Gas Come From
This poisonous gas comes from carbon based fuels. When different carbon based fuels are burnt for the energy they emit, the combustion process produces this gas as a byproduct. Known sources are the exhaust pipes of motor vehicles, fires, smoke fumes from motor engines, water heaters and stoves that function on gas; generally anything that uses carbon based fuel.
Basically, when you inhale carbon monoxide it enters the lungs. Just like oxygen entering the lungs it is absorbed into the bloodstream, however, it is absorbed faster than oxygen. Oxygen is an important element when it comes to breathing and body processes like cell division and growth. However, if red blood cells are carrying less oxygen than your body requires certain side effects tend to show, like:
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
Treatments for these symptoms are primarily aimed at expelling carbon monoxide from the bloodstream. This is best achieved by getting an overdose of oxygen from a gas mask. The oxygen will breakdown the carboxyhemoglobin that would have formed as a result of the combining of the hemoglobin in the red blood cells and carbon monoxide. A hyperbaric chamber is used instead of an oxygen reservoir tank if the poisoning is severe. Hyperbaric therapy is normally used to direct oxygen straight into the body tissues.
Knowing is a way of taking care of yourself. Who knows, the next time you feel dizzy it might actually be monoxide poisoning, so at least you know what to do.