A guide to carbon monoxide...

Carbon monoxide poisoning
Delayed symptoms and after effects

Short term after effects of carbon monoxide poisoning may include delayed neurological symptoms (called Delayed Neurological Syndrome or DNS).

A survivor may have [severe] symptoms that get worse in the weeks following poisoning. This means that a survivors health and symptoms may actually get [a lot] worse after the poisoning before starting to [slowly] improve.

Carbon monoxide poisoning has a toxic "biochemical domino effect" that can continue to attack the brain for many weeks after the poisoning.

Damage to blood vessels and other important areas of functioning cause damage to myelin, an important protein that coats neurons helping transmit signals more quickly within the nervous system and brain.

Damage to brain tissues [can] trigger the immune system to respond by causing brain inflammation. The inflammation then causes [more] brain damage. This effect is explained further in Carbon monoxide poisoning and the science behind it.

Delayed Neurological Syndrome (DNS) usually occurs in the days and weeks following the poisoning. It shows as a range of physical, mental, emotional and behavioral, and social effects.

Short to mid term symptoms and effects of carbon monoxide poisoning may continue becoming long term symptoms and effects.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause brain damage, brain trauma, impact almost any aspect of brain functioning, and more.

Your comments about carbon monoxide poisoning...

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The End of the Story: 10 Lessons Learned--2 of 2
Texas Doctor 2 of 2 from TX
(continuing, sorry hit my char/care limit), but my story is valuable and I wanted to share only the most important elements with you):

2 of 2.

...It also explains why, for days before and weeks AFTER the hospitalization (before I figured all this out on my own) medicine like "beta blockers" and even low doses of benzodiazepines (not recommended generally) HAPPENED to help. I knew my heart was under a lot of stress, but we couldn't figure out why it was still hurting EVEN THOUGH my cardiac enzymes (and echo AND stress test AND angio were all negative). And why the heart and sob/dyspnea got WORSE with stress. We thought it was "just a panic attack" or "just a heart attack" (or maybe even a Pulmonary Embolus, which can look similarly). So, what gives? My HEART was bad NOT because the arteries were clogged or because I had some unusual rhythm, but BECAUSE the heart wasn't getting enough oxygen, so, the beta blockers and benzo helped since it REDUCED cardiac DEMAND (since we couldn't really improve supply at home (without home O2)). So, once I figured this out (and removed the space heaters), ALL THIS FINALLY came together. It was an amazing lesson (for everyone).

In the weeks / months after my hosp, I still wake up in the middle of the night SOB and with chest tightness. I know it's the heart beating fast (after usual nightmares) since it's not getting the oxygen it normally gets and expects, since the RBCs are poisoned until they die off in 120 days.

I really hope the ER where I went in Dallas learns something from this case too, as I'll be sharing my story with them as well. So I REALLY came here to help you guys and anyone that trips across this particular post in the future. LESSONS LEARNED:

1. If you ever have these types of symptoms (notice: I didn't have the classic headaches, maybe 'cuz I'm already on Aspirin every day?), and ESPECIALLY if it's winter, LOOK FOR SPACE HEATERS.

2. ENSURE you have CO detector in the SAME room as your space heater.

3. Ensure you REPLACE your CO detectors every 5-7 years (I read this, but didn't research it yet fully).

4. If you FEEL like or "look like" you're having a heart attack, DON'T JUST LET the ER / hospital kick you out after a (yawn) "rule out MI" and your "troponins (cardiac enzymes) and EKG are negative"!! Make SURE they also check your damn BLOOD for CARBON MONOXIDE LEVELS IF you have risk factors (there's many others, you probably know the list...space heaters are only 1 source) ESP in the winter (presentation-wise I mean).

5. Yes, request the nasal cannula (nasal prongs) or 100% oxygen (this will displace the CO faster).

6. Don't expect to magically improve once you go home (whether or not they've diagnosed you correctly!). The symptoms, I'm learning the hard way, last for probably as long as the RBC life expectancy of 120d, or 4 months).

7. If you DO use space heaters in a room (and they're new and you have no symptoms), that's fine, BUT BE SURE to air out the room (cross ventilation) frequently). It's natural (dangerous) to want to close the door when you go in, and close it when you go out (saving the heat/energy). DANGEROUS!! Pay the extra 20cents to reheat the (hopefully small) room by keeping the door open when you leave, esp if it's an older space heater.

8. CO poisoning can look like "MI" (heart attack) AND, incidentally PE (Pulmonary Embolus)...which they didn't rule out either. Like you, I was just sent home with a "feel better note" and follow-up in a week with your doctor. CO poisoning is an EMERGENCY and can kill. No smell, etc, and thus the "silent killer".

9. Speaking of which, remember garages as a BIG potential source of CO, if you don't have space heaters, ESP if you have a non-electric water heater and/or work on your car/motorcycle (not me!) a lot in your garage, cuz that stuff not only gets in your blood, but drifts into the HOUSE, where your wife and kids are sleeping!

10. Keep the space heater in any/every room where you feel you have risk factors (space heater, garage, etc).

Thanks for the opportunity and I HOPE I've made a difference by posting all this educational info & my personal experience with you.

The End of the Story: 10 Lessons Learned--2 of 2
Texas Doctor 2 of 2 from TX
(continuing, sorry hit my char/care limit), but my story is valuable and I wanted to share only the most important elements with you):

2 of 2.

...It also explains why, for days before and weeks AFTER the hospitalization (before I figured all this out on my own) medicine like "beta blockers" and even low doses of benzodiazepines (not recommended generally) HAPPENED to help. I knew my heart was under a lot of stress, but we couldn't figure out why it was still hurting EVEN THOUGH my cardiac enzymes (and echo AND stress test AND angio were all negative). And why the heart and sob/dyspnea got WORSE with stress. We thought it was "just a panic attack" or "just a heart attack" (or maybe even a Pulmonary Embolus, which can look similarly). So, what gives? My HEART was bad NOT because the arteries were clogged or because I had some unusual rhythm, but BECAUSE the heart wasn't getting enough oxygen, so, the beta blockers and benzo helped since it REDUCED cardiac DEMAND (since we couldn't really improve supply at home (without home O2)). So, once I figured this out (and removed the space heaters), ALL THIS FINALLY came together. It was an amazing lesson (for everyone).

In the weeks / months after my hosp, I still wake up in the middle of the night SOB and with chest tightness. I know it's the heart beating fast (after usual nightmares) since it's not getting the oxygen it normally gets and expects, since the RBCs are poisoned until they die off in 120 days.

I really hope the ER where I went in Dallas learns something from this case too, as I'll be sharing my story with them as well. So I REALLY came here to help you guys and anyone that trips across this particular post in the future. LESSONS LEARNED:

1. If you ever have these types of symptoms (notice: I didn't have the classic headaches, maybe 'cuz I'm already on Aspirin every day?), and ESPECIALLY if it's winter, LOOK FOR SPACE HEATERS.

2. ENSURE you have CO detector in the SAME room as your space heater.

3. Ensure you REPLACE your CO detectors every 5-7 years (I read this, but didn't research it yet fully).

4. If you FEEL like or "look like" you're having a heart attack, DON'T JUST LET the ER / hospital kick you out after a (yawn) "rule out MI" and your "troponins (cardiac enzymes) and EKG are negative"!! Make SURE they also check your damn BLOOD for CARBON MONOXIDE LEVELS IF you have risk factors (there's many others, you probably know the list...space heaters are only 1 source) ESP in the winter (presentation-wise I mean).

5. Yes, request the nasal cannula (nasal prongs) or 100% oxygen (this will displace the CO faster).

6. Don't expect to magically improve once you go home (whether or not they've diagnosed you correctly!). The symptoms, I'm learning the hard way, last for probably as long as the RBC life expectancy of 120d, or 4 months).

7. If you DO use space heaters in a room (and they're new and you have no symptoms), that's fine, BUT BE SURE to air out the room (cross ventilation) frequently). It's natural (dangerous) to want to close the door when you go in, and close it when you go out (saving the heat/energy). DANGEROUS!! Pay the extra 20cents to reheat the (hopefully small) room by keeping the door open when you leave, esp if it's an older space heater.

8. CO poisoning can look like "MI" (heart attack) AND, incidentally PE (Pulmonary Embolus)...which they didn't rule out either. Like you, I was just sent home with a "feel better note" and follow-up in a week with your doctor. CO poisoning is an EMERGENCY and can kill. No smell, etc, and thus the "silent killer".

9. Speaking of which, remember garages as a BIG potential source of CO, if you don't have space heaters, ESP if you have a non-electric water heater and/or work on your car/motorcycle (not me!) a lot in your garage, cuz that stuff not only gets in your blood, but drifts into the HOUSE, where your wife and kids are sleeping!

10. Keep the space heater in any/every room where you feel you have risk factors (space heater, garage, etc).

Thanks for the opportunity and I HOPE I've made a difference by posting all this educational info & my personal experience with you.

I\\\'m a Medical Doctor. Check this out ...
Texas Doctor 1 of 2 from TX
Great site, thanks. I'm actually a Medical Doctor and wanted to share my story. I was actually the patient this time. I was just shy of passing out many times for days and had been light-headed/dizzy with chest pain / tightness for weeks, and it was always hard to catch my breath. These symptoms are classic for heart attack, arrhythmia, and maybe a couple other things. Well, 2 days in the hospital and $100,000 in bills later (no insurance of course), after an extensive "Rule out MI" (rule out heart attack), they sent me home "heart's fine!" type of diagnosis (like a lot of you, in some ways).

Guess what?? I solved the problem on my own (yeah, a little late for me, but at least I can help you guys). A few weeks later, I figured it out on my own! Here it is:

The ER focused on "heart attack" because I had SOB (Shortness of Breath), increasing episodes of presyncope (almost passing out), light-headedness, chest TIGHTNESS, and just dyspnea (difficulty breathing).

Oh yes, I had all the cardiac enzymes x 3, the stress test, the echo, the ANGIOGRAM(!!!), but guess what? They NEVER drew a SIMPLE BLOOD TEST for carbon monoxide level! And, worse, it was the dead of winter and they never even asked me "do you use SPACE HEATERS?".

Space heaters (even the "safe" ones, I looked mine up and it was "one of the safe ones") give off CO. I should write a book on this. I mean I could tell you about points where I was down on my knees trying to breath (yeah, even LONG AFTER the hospitalization where I was "all clear"). Why? Cuz I couldn't breathe! Why again? Check this out:

You'll read a lot on the internet things like "oh, my levels were normal", cuz they return to normal after 4-8 hours depending on if you're on normal or 100% oxygen". It's all nonsense BECAUSE CO binds to Hgb (hemoglobin, which is in your red cells) 200x STRONGER than O2 (oxygen). So...it "displaces" the oxygen (there's no room for it on the Hgb). WHY AM I SHARING THIS? It's NOT just to save you a LOT of money/debt (by suggesting it to the ER once "all the tests are normal" God forbid you or someone you know has similar symptoms), but for this key reason too:

The SYMPTOMS improve signficantly after getting rid of the space heaters (remember winter presentations), BUT THEY LAST ALMOST AS SIGNFICIANTLY (the shortness of breath and dyspnea!!!) as long as 120 days!!! Why? Because 120 days is the life expectancy of RBCs (red blood cells). That MEANS you need to wait for your bone marrow to replenish (produce more) RBCs to replace the ones you have. There's a myth: that it all goes away in a few hours. No way! You have to be patient and wait it out. I'm trying Iron to try and sort of boost my bone marrow to produce more or a little faster. See, all the hemoglobin is POISONED, so those molecules stay. Why did I sometimes feel better dropping to the floor? Because like any gas, there's less of it lower down (think firefighters and general "smoke" (which contains CO of course)).

I struggled and continue to struggle even driving in the car when I get sob/dyspneic: Do I open the windows or keep them closed. Sometimes I get more air (oxygen basically) but sometimes you just breathe in more exhaust fumes). KEEP YOUR VENTS CLOSED before you park, open your windows once you leave your garage, THEN close them once you get into traffic (the exhaust fumes from the traffic comes right thru the vents). You don't NOTICE this stuff UNTIL you're suffering the repercussions after the ER / hospitalization. Why? Because your "oxygen reserves" are depleted and so you have less of a previously-unappreciated "oxygen backup. See, when you're healthy, you don't notice or care about the exhaust coming thru the vents (until "it stinks"). Keep in mind, your blood picks it up way faster than your nose.

So, a lot of this explains certain other things, like why I suddenly craved steak (a LOT of iron). Normally, I hardly ever eat or desire steak (or spinach by the way). These are both super high in iron, which is the atom in the CENTER of the Hgb molecule.

It also explains why, for days before and weeks AFTER the hospitalization (before I figured all this out on my own) ... See 2 of 2 here, thanks.

Gas monoxide poisoning
ELSABETH from Halifax
When I had have gas monoxide in my body, I had difficult to explain what is happening and start to forget many things ,lose balance,digest food was hard ,hard to see the colours,I couldn't focus to see propyl hard understand when someone say something ,on my head I felt like moving inside ,my leg hurt to much ,migriane and I couldn't walk propyl i couldn't explain to the doctors ,they couldn't understand me because ,I haven't full memory .it was very hard that time .i was sure to die.but when I remember I try to pray to god ,to save me and 2my children,any way I would like to say ho read this massage do not egnor any symptoms of headache ,back ,leg , hands flue ,tiredness less concentration ,and less understanding,communicating forget lot of ecc.....

Chronic CO poisoning but doctors don\'t believe me
Suresh from Glasgow Scotland
I have been classified as a hypochondriac by my doctors. I have had non-specific symptoms since November 2012 which I thought was MS, Parkinson\'s and other degenerative deseases, which I kept mentioning to my GP. I was given anti-depressants to which I am now addicted. I was home alone in November and the gas boiler was on all the time as winter last year was very cold here.

Never though of CO poisoning until recently but now it is too late. Daily my symptoms are increasing, which is making me fee worse. I believe I was breathing the CO for a long time, and have just recently fitted my symptoms to CO poisoning.

How do I convince the doctors? Any tips?

I know it is too late by I don\'t want to die as a hypochondriac.

Carbon monoxide poisoning
Tvonne from Michigan
It was my son who recognized the red cheeks and nose as having had carbonmonoxide poisoning. My doctor said that they usually attribute these symptoms to drinking but when informed of my furnace leaking the gas she realized the problem. My bad symptoms were extreme dizziness which caused nausea. My doctor now has me on oxygen therapy which is a great help but then she explained that the recovery time may be as long as 3 months. I certainly do not feel well and seem to have been losing my balance. I am 87 years old and do not know why God has spared me but I am thankful.

doctors need to listen really listen to patients
Bridget from PA
At the time of my poisoning i also had a couple roommates big house who also got poisoned. The one roommmate girl was the only one that would literally go with me to the doctors to say we were exposed as a family and needed help. Well needless to say the doctor we went to just sent us to the psychologist in the building. Quite embarrassing and not what I expected at all. But alot of what the docs have done for me is wrong like anti-depressants just make things worse any drugs do my body hates chemicals of any sort. I feel some of my health issues may be a result to misdiagnosing me for so long. I just personally needed relief from all symptoms i was still having after the exposure. AWould of done anything twice was on anti depressant prescribed by differrent docs so i believed they were right both times suicide was almost committed on me and my beautiful girls. which also cause damage mentally forever lasting impressions for me and them unfortunately. Did not want to leave them but wanted to die very much so. Still do sometimes but handle it differently. Do not take just any medications doc gives me. I will listen to what he has to say but make my own choice ain what goes into my body knowing what I know and have felt. Always go with your gut it takes you in the right direction. It knows you well!!!


should i go to my doctors
Lin
I had a gas leak and was unaware, i felt sick and tired, and if my daughter had not returned home that evening, may have gone to sleep forever. 2 days later i still feel sick and gidy, should i go to the doctors or would it now be a waste of time. I believe it was around 5 hours i was breathing in the CO.

sleeping
danielle
after getting carbon dioxide poisoning should you wait to go to to sleep

sleeping
danielle
after getting carbon dioxide poisoning should you wait to go to to sleep

Survivor
Diane Heyes from UK
I can relate to patients's GP's not diagnosing Monoxide Poisoning, my GP thought I needed a Psychologist or even thought I was a hypochondriac until evidence of the poisoning was shown to him in writing from the Gas Co. who's engineer did not repair my broken monoxide seal due it being Xmas Eve and he was on call having being called from a family gathering, he was then dismissed and never reported the broken seal hence I inhaled it for 4months excersizing irrational behaviour before the finding, what saved me is I suffer with cluastraphobia and always have my windows open

been there
shelly from luther michigan
i was ill for quite awhile,after a second emergency room visit i was given a cat scan, that is how i found out. the radiologist said there were crystalization on my brain which is generally due to carbon poisoning, i was given no treatment just sent home to wonder what will happen down the road. i went to the fire dept. and asked what i could do to prevent future problems. i bought a carbon tester called my propane co. and an appliance man. was told,you basically have to be draged out of your house passed out, appliance man and propane not much liability for someone to come and check on any problem could result in a law suit if they are wrong. so just go out and put one in every room. could be a good career move for someone. something to look into. good luck to all

Sabrina from Idaho
I relate so much to this post. I was recently poisoned, and yet every doctor I have been to tells me there is no connection between my symptoms, which is almost every symptom listed, and carbon monoxide poisoning. It is very frustrating. I know I have damage from it, but I can't convince the doctors. At the time of the exposure, I was never treated with oxygen therapy, nor was I given an ABG teast until 4 days later. So I have no initial blood gas level for comparison, unfortunately. So, where does one go from here?

Walter from London, UK
As a carbon monoxide survivor I faced a second struggle after I was poisoned. That is, I struggled to have the symptoms and effects I was experiencing even be recognized as being related to my poisoning.

My doctors literally would not believe me and were dismissive even when I showed them carbon monoxide related studies that listed the exact things I was experiencing. CO poisoning has shattered my respect for the medical system.


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