- Carbon monoxide can pose a real danger to you within your home if you’re being exposed to it.
- And because it’s not always clear that something might be amiss, knowing the signs that you could potentially be exposed to it is very important.
- From headaches to dizziness, confusion, and more, here are the signs that you’re being exposed to carbon monoxide in your home.
You likely already know that carbon monoxide can pose a danger to your health if you’re exposed to it, but you might not know what the signs of carbon monoxide exposure. are that could indicate that that’s exactly what’s happening.
“Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odourless, many homeowners may not know they are being exposed to the harmful gas,” Marla Mock, VP of Operations at Aire Serv, a Neighborly company, told INSIDER. “It’s important to recognise the warning signs, which progressively get worse the longer you are exposed.”
Though you might think that your carbon monoxide detector will keep you protected from any carbon monoxide exposure, that may not always be the case. Understanding what’s happening when you’re exposed to carbon monoxide can help clarify just how dangerous it can be and why it’s so important to take swift action if you think you’re being exposed.
“When there is too much CO in the air you breathe, the gas replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells,” Blair Thornley, PharmD, a specialist in the Poison Control Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia told the hospital in an article about carbon monoxide poisoning. “That reduces the amount of oxygen your blood can carry and the amount of oxygen delivered to your vital organs.”
There are a number of signs that could indicate exposure. Though some are fairly common and could indicate another type of illness or condition, are somewhat vague and general, if they’re getting worse or you have a combination of them, it’s likely time for you to seek medical attention right away. Here’s what you need to look for.
Dizziness is one of the early signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Mock. The reason that you might experience dizziness is because of the effect that the gas has on the levels of oxygen in your blood.
You feel sort of weak
Tiredness or weakness is another potential early-on carbon monoxide exposure symptom, according to Mayo Clinic. This is maybe a more vague symptom than something like dizziness, so if you’re feeling weak, it may be beneficial to monitor yourself and see if you’re also experiencing any other symptoms. If you are, then it could be carbon monoxide exposure and you should seek medical attention.
You have a really bad headache
A headache is another early sign of carbon monoxide poisoning, Mock said. If you’re experiencing any of the early-on signs, it’s best to act. “It doesn’t take long to experience these symptoms if there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home, so if you or another resident starts to feel dizzy or weak, you should evacuate the building and seek medical assistance,” Mock added.
Your vision is off
Vision issues can also be indicative of carbon monoxide exposure. According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “visual disturbances” are a sign that you’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide for longer than just a short time. If you’re dealing with blurred vision or any other vision issues, particularly coupled with other symptoms, it’s time to see a doctor.
You’re sick to your stomach
Nausea and stomach upset (along with vomiting) are additional potential carbon monoxide exposure symptoms that can occur after you’ve been dealing with exposure to the colorless, odourless gas for a while, Mock said.
“If you are experiencing a carbon monoxide leak, you should call in a professional to fix the issue,” Mock added. “The most effective way to protect homeowners from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install carbon monoxide detectors and test them frequently. The CDC recommends homeowners test and replace the batteries in their carbon monoxide detector when the time changes in the spring and fall.”
You’re feeling confused
According to the CDC, confusion can be something that comes along with carbon monoxide exposure. That’s probably not surprising, however. After confusion, it could cause you to pass out or kill you. It is a similar confusion or brain fog that you might feel when you have the flu.
You’re experiencing pain in your chest
Chest pain can also be a sign that you’re being exposed to carbon monoxide, according to the CDC. It’s not uncommon. But if you have pain in your chest, carbon monoxide might not be the first thought that crosses your mind. That’s why it’s so important to know the wide variety of signs and symptoms that can potentially point to carbon monoxide exposure, as opposed to something else.
You’re struggling to breathe
If you’re struggling to breathe, in addition to other symptoms, you might be dealing with carbon monoxide exposure. Shortness of breath and rapid breathing are one of the common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
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