By in Health & Fitness

Early Signs of Carbon Monoxide Exposure

The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide is called "The Silent Killer". You can't see it, hear it or smell it, yet it can build up unnoticed in your home and kill you! This gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless and is produced when fuel for heating or cooking is not burned properly. The gas builds up and seeps out of cracks in the flue carrying fumes away from the fire or boiler. These fumes can be detected by a carbon monoxide detector. Detectors are small and only cost a small amount of money but will last for several years and could save your life, provided you install them properly according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you get a leak of carbon monoxide, the detector will sound loud beeps or make another noise to alert you to danger. If it sounds, immediately get out of the room and into fresh air and get fresh air into the affected room. Make sure all people and pets are out of the house or building and into fresh air. Unless you have detectors all over the house and building, you cannot tell which rooms are safe and which not.


If you don't have a detector, you may not realise you are being exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning until it is too late.


The early symptoms are not always obviously to do with the air you are breathing. You may have a headache, like a tension-type headache or feel dizzy, confused or nauseous, or have a stomach pain or feel short of breath. You may feel like you have the flu, except you do not have the high temperature. With higher concentrations of the gas, you may just fall asleep and never wake up.

The headache is caused by the increased levels of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream. This binds with the hemoglobin, so that it is less able to carry oxygen round your body, this is why you become dizzy, feel nauseous and have a headache - your body is being starved of oxygen.

Shortness of breath is one of the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning that many people fail to realize. It may take a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the level of carbon monoxide in the air but you will begin to notice your own breathing becomes labored. The reason for this is because the presence of carbon monoxide means your body is experiencing a shortage of oxygen. So, your body tries to fill up your lungs with oxygen, but is getting carbon monoxide instead, resulting in shortness of breath.

The next symptoms may include hallucinations and delusions. Usually this is seen as problems with vision, but in some rare cases it can also involve hearing problems, confusion, or even lapses in concentration. These can be mistaken for ordinary problems with the senses, but be aware that they could be a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning as well. If you have any of these symptoms after being exposed to the gas, then you should get out of the house right away and call for help. from 911, or go to your local emergency room.

If you find that your symptoms improve when moving away from a heating or cooking appliance, then suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and get out into the fresh air and get others out too.
If you experience any or all of the early signs of carbon monoxide exposure, it is very important that you immediately call for emergency assistance. and make sure that an experienced technician is called out to the home or building as soon as possible to perform an on-site test.

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MegL wrote on May 26, 2021, 5:49 PM

You can find out more about where a carbon monoxide detector should be placed at

VinceSummers wrote on May 27, 2021, 12:17 PM

A nice balanced coverage. Here is a bit of chemistry on the topic:

MegL wrote on May 27, 2021, 5:02 PM

Thanks VinceSummers . That definitely shows why carbon monoxide is so dangerous!