A guide to carbon monoxide...

Carbon monoxide poisoning and areas of the brain, their function, and how they may be impacted

Carbon monoxide poisoning deprives all cells in the brain of oxygen and poisons them. It can damage any area of the brain and potentialy affect any aspect of brain functioning:

diagram of brain

Frontal Lobe: most anterior, right under the forehead

Functions of the frontal lobe:

  • How we know what we are doing within our environment (consciousness)
  • How we initiate activity in response to our environment
  • Judgments we make about what occurs in our daily activities
  • Controls emotional response
  • Controls expressive language
  • Assigns meaning to the words we use
  • Involves word associations
  • Memory for habits and motor activities

If carbon monoxide poisoning causes problems with the frontal lobe there could be:

  • Loss of simple movement of various body parts (paralysis)
  • Inability to plan a sequence of complex movements needed to complete multi-step tasks, such as making coffee (sequencing)
  • Loss of spontaneity in interacting with others
  • Loss of flexibility in thinking
  • Persistence of a single thought (preservation)
  • Inability to focus on task (attending)
  • Mood changes (emotionally labile)
  • Changes in social behavior
  • Changes in personality
  • Difficulty with problem solving
  • Inability to express language (Broca's Aphasia)

Parietal Lobe: near the back and top of the head

Functions of the parietal lobe

  • Location for visual attention and touch perception
  • Goal-directed, voluntary movements
  • Manipulation of objects
  • Integration of different senses that allows for understanding a single concept

If carbon monoxide poisoning causes problems with the parietal lobe there could be:

  • Inability to attend to more than one object at a time
  • Inability to name an object (anomia)
  • Inability to locate the words for writing (agraphia)
  • Problems with reading (alexia)
  • Difficulty with drawing objects
  • Difficulty in distinguishing left from right
  • Difficulty with doing mathematics (dyscalculia)
  • Lack of awareness of certain body parts and/or surrounding space (apraxia) that leads to difficulties in self-care
  • Inability to focus visual attention
  • Difficulties with eye and hand coordination

Occipital Lobes: most posterior, at the back of the head

Function of occipital lobes: Vision

If carbon monoxide poisoning causes problems with the occipital lobes there could be:

  • Defects in vision (visual field cuts)
  • Difficulty with locating objects in environment
  • Difficulty with identifying colors (color agnosia)
  • Production of hallucinations
  • Visual illusions - inaccurately seeing objects
  • Word blindness - inability to recognize words
  • Difficulty in recognizing drawn objects
  • Inability to recognize the movement of an object (movement agnosia)
  • Difficulties with reading and writing

Temporal Lobes: side of head above ears

Functions of the temporal lobes:

  • Hearing ability
  • Memory acquisition
  • Some visual perceptions
  • Categorization of objects

If carbon monoxide poisoning causes problems with the temporal lobes there could be:

  • Difficulty in recognizing faces (prosopagnosia)
  • Difficulty in understanding spoken words (wernicke's aphasia)
  • Disturbance with selective attention to what we see and hear
  • Difficulty with identification of, and verbalization about objects
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Interference with long-term memory
  • Increased or decreased interest in sexual behavior
  • Inability to categorize objects (categorization)
  • Right lobe damage can cause persistent talking
  • Increased aggressive behavior

Brain Stem: deep in the brain – leads to the spinal cord

Functions of the brain stem:

If carbon monoxide poisoning causes problems with the brain stem there could be:

  • Decreased vital capacity in breathing, important for speech
  • Swallowing food and water (dysphagia)
  • Difficulty with organization/perception of the environment
  • Problems with balance and movement
  • Dizziness and nausea (vertigo)
  • Sleeping difficulties (insomnia, sleep apnea)

Cerebellum: located at the base of the skull

Functions of the cerebellum:

  • Coordination of voluntary movement
  • Balance and equilibrium
  • Some memory for reflex motor acts

If carbon monoxide poisoning causes problems with the cerebellum there could be:

  • Loss of ability to coordinate fine movements
  • Inability to reach out and grab objects
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness (vertigo)
  • Slurred Speech (scanning speech)
  • Inability to make rapid movements

Your comments about carbon monoxide poisoning...

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Questions? Want to share your opinion? Do it here...
I wouldn\\\'t blame everything on Co poisoning.
Liz from Canada
First of all. Go and see the doctor and have a CT scan done. Second of all drugs and alcohol impact the brain as well, don\\\'t rule that out.
I was poisoned when I was 11. The exhaust was broken on our vehicle and I spent days inhaling these fumes on a summer vacation. Eventually I walked into a 4storefront window thinking it was a door. Poisoned.
Anyways, years later I was prescribed antidepressants because of Postpartum Depression. Suddenly I could recognize people\\\'s faces, and my speech cleared up as well as my understanding of written words.
My suggestion, talk to your doctor about antidepressants it may help.

Maybe CO poisoning has been m problem all along
Nathan Berry Stewart from Florida Panhandle
When I was four or five years old, (1948 or 49) I was paralized by Carbon Monoxide poisoning while on a trip from Apalachiola Florida to Wakulla Station Florida. It was cold so all the windows were rolled up. I remember riding the hump, (sitting on the hump in the floor of the car that gave clearance for the drive shaft). My dad stopped when he noticed everyone was going to sleep and I remember him saying something about carbon monoxide and telling everyone to get out and walk around and breath fresh air. Everyone but me (there were nine in the car) got out and walked around. I tried but couldn\'t move, couldn\'t speak, was terrified but paralized. Everyoe got back in the car and continued on with me paralized on the floor of the car. Next thing I remember is waking up freezing cold in the car by mself, still sitting on the hump. I couldn\'t move or scream and knew I was going to die before morning. Eventually my dad came out and carried me into the house and put me in bed, still paralized. I don\'t remember the next dayt, but I must have functioned well enough as to not raise any alarms because it was never spoken of until yeas later when I asked my mother about it. She remembered it but thought I was just asleep, and, \"There were so many kids it was easy to overlook one\".
Well, of seven children, I\'m the one who could never socially function, never keep a job, never stay in a relationship, eventually turned to a life of alcohol and drugs to cope. I\'m now soon to be 69 years old, have been alcohol and drug free for 19 years. I have learned to live within my limitations, little stress as possible, stay out of deep relationships, don\'t make commitments, and keep my life as simple as possible. I have accepted my condition but have always wondered, why?
Maybe now I know why, but it\'s still emotionally and mentally painful.

fetus poisioning from carbon monoxide
I would like to know if it is possible that a fetus exposed to large amounts of carbon monoxide during pregnancy can be born at a low birth weight, have trouble breathing, and then not be able to walk. I have a nephew whom I believe this happened to due to his parents lack of concern and putting the fetus in danger in a car with a large amount of carbon monoxide. they drove around in the car like this everyday almost while she was pregnant and the baby was born premature and weighed 4 pound 4 ounces, and had lots of breathing problems, and after the baby was born they continued to put this little baby in the car and drive around with him. The baby is 13 months old and can\'t walk. Could this be due to carbon monoxide?

My future is bleak
A former friend of mine tried to commit suicide and murder me at the same time by intentionally poisoning his home with CO. I escaped, but I am feeling the effects more and more, it is now more than a month since my poisoning. This site is incredibly helpful and informative, I hope to achieve some recovery with the help of what I have learned here.
Thank you so much,
A survivor.

can't take it anymore-harrassment at work
Laurie from Maryland
Depressed & got it bad from completely unvented gas hot water heater installed 10-15years ago, just every year have made old 100plus farmhouse more air tight. Vent elbow to furnace (gas) was almost completely blocked with corroded metal. It's been over a year & took time off work LPN. Struggling, have had good days , a few lately, but they are SOOOOO close to firing me, I can't keep my mind straight, forgetful, & taking more time to finish......but no empathy, only criticism. I need income, I am freaking out ,anxiety is off the scale & have come too close to suicide due to fear of losing all I worked so hard for. I am 49, widowed. Independent & isolating worse than ever.

Life out of control
Brain Damaged from USA
Why aren't doctors educated or have any knowledge on this? Why has my life been spiraling out of control, before its been determined that I don't have some mental disorder and pumped full of drugs, but brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning that has been making my life so difficult.

Inform everyone you know about this site, as it has been my life for the last four years.

Suchai from Asia
I think I poison by this gas for long time. I feel no good many time and hard time to think sometime. Look like many of my problem for my thinking. I want to take some medicine for my problem but not know what I can take.

bad brain
ventura from denver
i was keep in a dirt basement when i was a child. the house i lived in had a coal furnace and coal room. i spent 8 years in the basement putting coal in the furnace, breathing carbon monoxide and the heat pipes were wraped in asbestos. i cajn't keep a job or relationship in over 40 years. i can't get help like social security disability, because they think the injury is not real. help!!!!

Very interesting
Sarah from New Mexico
Really great site and information. Way better than anything else I have seen. Thank you!

Trying to figure out what is wrong
Rene from USA
I just found this site and trying to identify what I may have. I started having problems with my coordination and motor skills almost two years ago. I have weakness in my right leg and arm.

I went to several doctors and I was given a prescription for an MRI. I had three different MRI's done that showed demyelenation in my central nervous system.

However, the doctors have not been able to diagnose me with MS or any other neurological disorders. I used to live on a boat in which I always had my generator on while I took the boat out and slept on board. I never put two and two together, and now I am wondering if I have been exposed to CO during that time.

I remember, for a long time I have had severe headaches which continues today. I also had a spinal tap done which produced head inflammation and migraine headaches but the MRI also was negative for MS..

I have been an athlete my entire life. Before these symptoms, I played soccer, competed in triathlons and other sports. Since then, I am not even able to walk long distances without my right leg becoming paralized. Now, I even have difficulty putting my shoes on and I loose balance very easily.

Has anyone else experienced any of these symptoms... I have also lost some of my hearing and I get continuous ringing in my ears. If anyone has any recommendations, I would love to hear from you. My email is: rvw1968@hotmail.com

Can CO poisoning cause migraines after a poisoning?

My CO poisoning occured 28 years ago and to this day I have trouble with blinding headaches and memory issues...

It would have been nice to find this page earlier so I would quit beating myself up :o)

Robert from Edmonton
This page explains a lot for me. Why didn't my doctor tell me this stuff about carbon monoxid? I've been having a lot of problems since I had the CO poisioning and nobody could give me answers. This page at least explains why

Mitch from US
A diagram or picture of a brain and its parts would be helpful.

Questions? Want to share your opinion? Do it here...
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