Everyone knows that carbon monoxide is hazardous to the human body. Whether you hear about it while watching the news, surfing the web, or via gabbing with a friend or coworker, carbon monoxide poisoning is a health hazard that can sometimes appear ubiquitous in modern society. However, many Americans making a routine checkup with their doctor are astounded to learn that they are suffering from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning without even knowing it.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is most commonly created as a by-product of combustion. Because it is imperceptible to the human senses, it is virtually impossible to tell if you are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning until you begin showing symptoms, and unfortunately, many individuals aren't even familiar enough with the symptoms to understand that it is time to seek treatment. Moreover, due to the fact that carbon monoxide binds to blood cells in lieu of oxygen, it will take up to 120 days for the cells to die off and expel the carbon monoxide from your body. This means the negative effects carbon monoxide has on your body can linger for nearly a third of a year.
What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are usually commensurate with the degree of exposure. Some of the more mild symptoms include a dizziness, sleepiness, and a dull, frontal headache. As exposure to carbon monoxide intensifies, victims will begin to experience nausea and vomiting, as well as inhibition of higher thought processes. Finally, victims will suffer blurred vision, slurring of speech, loss of consciousness, and ultimately death. Because it is impossible to see or smell carbon monoxide, it is imperative that anyone suffering from the preceding symptoms seek out any potential sources of carbon monoxide within their environment.
Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From?
Carbon monoxide comes from anything that engages in combustion, or starts fire. However, this is not the only source of carbon monoxide. Many household appliances, such as clothes dryers and hair dryers, also generate carbon monoxide. For this reason, it is crucial that you perform regular checks to your dryer's ventilation system, and be careful not to leave hair dryers running for an excessive period of time. Malfunctioning car exhaust pipes are another common source of carbon monoxide poisoning. Over the years, exhaust pipes can become corroded and start leaking exhaust fumes into the car. In order to prevent your car becoming your casket, be sure to have it checked by a certified mechanic every thousand miles. Another thing to note is generator use during power outages. Be sure to keep your generators outdoors and not in your house or garage while running. These can emit heavy doses of carbon monoxide and be fatal.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer that is generated from everyday occurrences, such as driving your car, cooking your dinner, and even washing your clothes. It claims around 430 lives on an annual basis. To avoid becoming part of this sobering statistic, be sure to install carbon monoxide detectors on each separate story of the home, perform regular check-ups on your car and, as always, exercise caution whenever working with fire. If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, seek medical assistance from your nearest emergency healthcare facility.