Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Question:

Tell us about your experience with carbon monoxide poisoning? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: rn123, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 05

Twenty three years ago I was locked in a workshop with 3 cars running. I was hospitalized later with severe carbon monoxide poisoning. As I have got older, headaches have increased, tumors developed on my posterior aspect of my eyes, and I am always feeling short of breath. I am just curious if the event 23 years ago has contributed to this.

Comment from: sunchaser, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: November 30

I have a vacant apartment I've been working in for the last few weeks. It was very dirty after the tenant moved and we've been scrubbing down and re-painting from floor to ceiling. Yesterday I installed a carbon monoxide detector at approximately 5 PM (after being in the apartment with the gas wall heater running all day). This morning at 7 AM the adjacent tenant texted me that an alarm was sounding in the unit next door. I arrived approximately 15 minutes later and discovered the carbon monoxide detector was ringing. A technician looked at the heater and found it to be emitting carbon monoxide into the apartment and needs to be replaced. And I thought I was just being lazy! I found myself getting very unmotivated to work more than 4 to 5 hours per day. I've also been having an upset stomach every night and headaches (I thought those were due to a certain cupboard door I kept hitting my head on)! Very scary! If you don't have a carbon monoxide detector in your residence go to a hardware store and get one! They have units which plug directly into a wall outlet. Very easy to install!

Comment from: charlene, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 26

My carbon monoxide poisoning came from a truck. (I'm a truck driver.) The truck had an exhaust leak, and the carbon monoxide came in the cab. I was in the truck for four days. I had to ride with the windows opened; that's what saved me. My company refused to fix the truck and demanded I do my job. When I got back home off the road, I had them send me to the doctor. My levels two days after getting home were still 10.7. My head felt as if my brain was trying to push out. I had a headache that was out of this world. That was a year ago, and I have not driven since. Now I have migraine headaches, which are no fun at all.

Comment from: Bob, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: January 03

I actually didn't get carbon monoxide poisoning, and I am curious as to why it did not happen. During a suicide attempt in the past, I let the car run in a closed garage. There wasn't much gas left, but it was an impulsive decision, and I didn't think it would take long. There must have been less than 1/4 or less than 1/8 tank left of gas. Memory is a bit foggy. After what seemed like 20 or 30 minutes, I noticed nothing happened. I felt no dizziness or headache or sleepiness. After the car ran out of gas, I waited in garage all night. I was so sure there was carbon monoxide in the air, and if I only stayed in the garage long enough, I'd definitely die. I was in the garage for hours. I think somewhere like from 12 am to almost 12 pm the next day. I think I fell asleep at one point. But nothing happened. No symptoms. It is a 3 car garage. Maybe too large a space. I wonder why nothing happened.

Comment from: Emma, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 23

We left the propane tank on after grilling. For whatever reason the flame went out so I closed the grill up. About 30 minutes later we went back out to the screened-in porch and smelled the propane. We didn't realize it was propane as about 10 minutes went by. We closed the tank and the air started clearing up. So we stayed out there for another. I woke up at four in the morning and had a huge headache, thought I was going to throw up, didn't, but had reflux and the chills and muscle cramps all over my body. I think it was from the propane.

Comment from: rampart27, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: May 02

I have witnessed this time and again and as recently as today. Carbon monoxide poisoning is often misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder; or an illegal drug problem or some other medical issue. It is a serious crime to knowingly allow building managers to look the other way instead of fixing the problem. There have been 3 deaths related to this but diagnosed as died in their sleep, or just old age and on and on. I am currently working on a solutions to get this silent killer.

Comment from: prairiesun, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: January 12

Check your furnaces every year. We just found that the senior apartment my mother lives in has a furnace that was blowing carbon monoxide back into the room. It is a 30 year old furnace and of course, the housing owners won't replace anything until they get a grant to do it. It has probably been like this for at least 2 years or more and guess what? Mom developed a brain damage condition a couple years ago that is progressive and has been getting worse as time goes by, causing loss of speech and memory, confusion, weakness walking, all symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. We went to neurologists and specialists galore and no one had an explanation. Wonder if they ever tested for carbon monoxide poisoning? I was always puzzled that her condition seemed worse in the winter. Get your furnaces replaced with ones that blow the soot and carbon monoxide out instead of letting the soot build up and block the carbon monoxide from getting out the flue. Check every year. Hers was burning yellow which is not right. It is more common than anyone realizes!

Comment from: rangerover33, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 03

I had started with bad headaches, which was very unusual for me as I never suffer with them. Then my eyes were so sore and all red and feeling sick I just thought I had a virus until I went shopping and nearly passed out in the shop which really frightened me. I went home feeling really poorly but didn't know why I slept all that afternoon and the next day just felt lifeless my friend came over at tea time and asked me to go to see a doctor. I really didn't want to go as I was feeling so ill but she talked me into going and as soon as I got into the doctors office my headache started clearing which then made me start thinking have I got a gas leak. So I called the gas people out and he said I had all the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and he switched my boiler off tonight at 9 pm. I have not sought medical advice yet but I am concerned about my eyes as they are very sore.

Comment from: Damaged for Life, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 25

We moved last August in to a Condo! Since my husband changed jobs we thought it was best to be closer to save money! Around October it was getting a little chilly already, so I decided to run the furnace more frequently as it got colder! Sitting on the Balcony I would always smell gas and was not sure where it was coming from! I was home basically all day while my daughter went to school and my husband to work! After about 3 weeks my daughter and I felt really sick and with all the viruses going around we thought it was just a flu virus! I started getting really bad headaches for weeks and nothing would get rid of them then I started feeling nauseated and always tired couldn't eat and was always losing my balance! Lost around 10 lbs. Around mid January our thermostat broke so I called the maintenance guy whom called a service technician to fix the problem! The thermostat was changed but then the technician called the maintenance guy out on the balcony to show him something on the furnace. He came in told us to shut our furnace off with no explanation! In the meantime my daughter felt constantly dizzy and fainted twice on me in her room :-(! My headaches were getting to the point where I could not take the pain anymore and I started losing feelings in my arms and legs. We had electric heaters going but since no one told us we had a Carbon Monoxide leak the electric heaters weren't warm enough so I turned the heater back on since the technician was supposed to come back the next day and ended up coming 4 days after! Our symptoms got really bad to the point where I was of balance would lose complete control of it by having to hold on to walls or whatever else I could! My husband started showing signs of headaches too and my irritability got worse as the weeks went on! We are no longer living in the condo and I feel much better. Although we got Medical treatment from Doctors no one knew what was wrong with us? So now how have a Carbon Monoxide Detector in the house we moved too because if we would of stayed there a few more weeks we would of ended up 6 feet under!

Comment from: taj, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 24

why I was questioning his knowledge. CO2 causes disorientation as a symptom. I feel he is/was not thinking clearly. I had already told the service person we had all the appliances, yet, neither my husband nor the service person checked those two heaters. Now my husband is angry with me for doubting him. He tried to tell me that there was no CO2 leak. He stated that he knew the gas heaters needed cleaning and would do so. I argued that we were now discussing the lives of six people and there was the possibility that we still had CO2 leaking. CO2 has no odor. My husband waits until he actually smells gas to fix the items. Again, CO2 has no odor. I feel he has left us unprotected and intend to call the propane service again. He is still angry. Please remember that mood swings, along with all of the other flu-like symptoms, are part of the symptoms of CO2 poisoning. Ours was a long-term illness. By rights, it should have caused our death due to the period of time we have been exposed. Both my husband and I knew the dangers of CO2 having worked in this field. Of all people who should have installed CO2 detectors, it should have been us. We bought this house ten years ago and kept talking about getting detectors and continually forgot to. Please don't find yourselves in this same position. CO2 detectors are now combined with radon detectors (another silent killer). These detectors can and will save your lives should you have a CO2 leak. Don't wait to install them as we did.

Comment from: malcolm45, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: January 24

Just found our gas cooker has been emitting CO for many years. My wife is in her mid-sixties and we both have health problems. I suffer from severe exhaustion, sleep apnea, heart problems and lung damage.

Comment from: Shrub, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: December 27

I work as a security guard in a residential site at night. Throughout a 12 hourr night, I do patrols of the site, the rest of the time I'm parked in a location where I can see access and egress. I've been the main guard here for over 2 yrs. I started to get really bad headaches, nausea, heartburn and dizzy spells while at work. I was excessively tired, even though I'd get enough sleep. Symptoms progressed over the course of 9 months. One night, I was sitting in the vehicle at work, chatting with my husband on the phone when I lost conscious. My husband was yelling at me on the phone, and when I didn't respond he called 911 thinking I'd been attacked or worse. Police were able to rouse me, and within 20 minutes my husband was at my work. I was taken to the hospital where it was determined I had C02 poisoning! It turned out the cars manifold was completely clogged - leaking exhaust into the cabin of the car! I spent a night at the hospital, and a week recovering my senses. My employer repaired the car, and I've since returned to work. Thankfully I was on the phone when this happened or it could have been an altogether different outcome.

Published: December 15

Today could have easily been the last day of my life. I was in my garage working on my car. I had to start the car briefly and shut it off as part of the repair step. I had the side garage door open for fresh air. I finished the repair and slid under the car to grab tools and extra parts. I started to feel confused and began going in and out of consciousness. I was able to get up and crawl to safety. After several falls and blackouts I finally made it in the house. I could not breath my head was pounding and I was very confused. My roommate found me and drove me to the ER. The doctors were very nervous as my vitals were low. I spent the next 12 hours on oxygen getting all kinds of tests and I was lucky to have made it through with no permanent damage. Thirty seconds more in the garage and I would be gone.

Comment from: John, 65-74 Male Published: January 18

After New Year's I started having headaches which I never have. I would wake up in the morning with a headache and they would get better or worse during the day depending how often I was outside. My business is in my home so I am there most of the day. One day I went to check my oil tank in the furnace room and noticed some black flecks of soot on the floor. When I went behind the furnace I found that the barometric damper on the smoke pipe to the chimney had stuck in an open position and would not operate. Thus I was getting co2 into the basement. I called the plumber and it was repaired. Within two days my headaches went away. Please have someone check your furnace completely every so often especially when the weather is very cold and your furnace is working overtime.

Comment from: Pollyana, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 27

Both my son and I have been experiencing excessive fatigue for the past few weeks. I have a sleep disorder and I thought I was just going through one of my "bad" times when I get really tired. I also had the thought that my thyroid was out of balance again, hormone wise. My son takes medicine for bi-polar which causes him to sleep long hours at night. Because of these things I didn't realize that something was very wrong. My son told me after the fact that he had been having mild headaches. I called the heating and airconditioning company to come help me with my furnace because I didn't know how to change the air filter. I've only lived in my house for 2 1/2 months. The furnace was also making a "popping" noise as it operated. The service men came out today and diagnosed the problem. That's when they told me we had the problem with carbon monoxide poisoning. It sure explains why my son and I had been so fatigued.

Comment from: 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 13

Our family of five has been ill for five or six weeks. Thought it was a virus. We have had dizziness, nausea, coughing and weakness. Went to the doctor 3 times was treated for bronchial infection. X-rays showed swollen lungs so took antibiotics and tried to get extra rest and such. Finally, after many weeks, we called the gas company after remembering how ill we had become in a previous home from a faulty water heater leaking gas into the basement. (We immediately replaced it!) The gas company came yesterday and found a carbon monoxide (CO) leak in the family room gas fireplace. I was reminded to get a CO monitor in the home. I hope my husband and I and our 3 children will not have long-term effects, but can't see how there won't be some problems as we have been sick so long. Get those monitors!!

Comment from: Just made it, Published: July 01

My brother was killed, and I slipped into a coma for 3 days. I awoke with a ventilator in my throat and my brain was pushing against my skull. I was told I'd have permanent brain damage due to the swelling, and lack of oxygen. My oxygen level was 13% when I was found the next morning. I never felt sick and just fell asleep sitting down. It is a very serious problem and I suggest everyone has a detector for this kind of stuff.

Comment from: camper, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: April 27

We were camping in a tent heated with a propane catalytic heater to take the chill out of the tent. Even a couple of hours came very close to killing us both. The only thing to save us was my wife's dizziness, which woke me up. I had difficulty breathing. We ventilated the tent immediately and luckily recovered with any long-term effect. Don't think for a minute that this won't happen to you. You could be poisoned and die in your sleep.

Comment from: Marion Smiith, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: February 22

I left my car running for about 13 hours in my garage. Had turned off my furnace as being very deaf, I thought it was what was making the noise when I went out to the garage to get something. That probably helped things, and my doctor attached a gadget to my finger, and then said my oxygen level was normal. A week later I am still very confused in my mind and have lost the pin number on my new credit card, left my checkbook on the cashier counter at Costco, can't remember the cards when playing bridge so have to quit, and can't remember words when speaking, so am going to ask my internist to refer me to a neurologist.

Comment from: Stacy, Female Published: March 08

My two nephews were just found dead March 6th in a house that they were remodeling in Ohio. They were running a generator in a garage. They went to sleep and never woke up. Please warn people. It was such a waste and devasted the families.

Comment from: picaziette, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: September 21

We were sitting in McDonalds for quite a while (two hours). Later in the day I went home and all of a sudden my skin felt like it was burning up. It took on the appearance of a very bad sunburn, skin turned bright red and felt like a fire. After an hour it subsided, but wondered if this was due to carbon monoxide poisoning. I was told the next day that the restaurant was filled with it. Other people experienced headaches, stomach aches.

Comment from: still sick, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 02

For a week or so I have been having headaches and having blurred vision. I can't seem to wake in the mornings and thought I had the flu or something. I found out that our furnace is not burning the gas right. Days later I am still sluggish and I can't remember things.

Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine

REFERENCES:

CDC.gov. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning FAQs.

Hampson NB. Residential carbon monoxide alarm use: opportunities for poisoning prevention. J Environ Health. 2011 Jan-Feb;73(6):30-3.

Johnson-Arbor, K., et al. A survey of residential carbon monoxide detector utilization among Connecticut Emergency Department patients. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2012 Jun;50(5):384-9.

National Fire Protection Association. Fast Facts About Smoke Alarms and Fire.

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