Doctor's Notes on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Poisoning
Carbon dioxide poisoning (also called hypercapnia or hypercarbia) results from high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. Carbon dioxide poisoning often occurs while scuba diving, from inadequate ventilation, inadequate breathing, a tight wetsuit, overexertion, regulator malfunction, deep diving, and contamination of the air supply with exhaled gases, which can cause a carbon dioxide buildup. Carbon dioxide levels in the blood may increase, causing shortness of breath and drowsiness, resulting in carbon dioxide toxicity.
Symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning include
- rapid breathing,
- fast heart rate, and
- flushing (warmth, redness, or tingling of the skin).
Symptoms of severe cases of carbon dioxide poisoning may include
- convulsions, and
- loss of consciousness.
What Is the Treatment for Carbon Dioxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a medical emergency. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or your family have symptoms and suspect there is exposure to carbon monoxide. Immediately get everyone and your pets out of the area of exposure to the outdoors while awaiting medical help.
Most mild to moderate carbon monoxide exposures respond to oxygen therapy. Blood levels of carbon monoxide will be checked to tailor the treatment type and duration. If the carbon monoxide poisoning is severe, high-pressure oxygen or mechanical ventilation (ventilator) may be needed. Also in severe cases, hyperbaric oxygen treatment may be necessary.
Carbon monoxide exposures can be prevented with the following steps:
- Have a working carbon dioxide detector in the home
- Do not forget to change the batteries regularly as needed
- Ensure proper ventilation guidelines are followed when operating engine-powered devices
- Do not leave a car running in a closed garage
- Do not operate propane stoves or lanterns or gas generators inside the home or closed workspaces
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Carbon Monoxide PoisoningCarbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning material containing carbon. Carbon monoxide kills nearly 400 people each year in the U.S. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, nausea, fatigue, and are often mistaken for the flu. If a person suspects they have been exposed to carbon monoxide poison, seek medical care emergently.
PoisoningPoisoning can have serious signs or symptoms including nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing, seizure, confusion, or pain. The National Poisong Control Center phone number in the U.S. 1-800-222-1222. Causes of poisoning include medications, chemicals, lead, and more. Treatment depends upon the type of poisoning.
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What Is the Difference Between Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide Poisoning?Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can be caused by exposure to fumes from burning fuel in motor vehicles, small engines, stoves, grills, gas ranges, lanterns, fireplaces, or furnaces. Carbon dioxide (CO2) poisoning can be caused by many conditions, including sedative overdose (e.g., narcotics or benzodiazepines), encephalitis, major stroke, central and obstructive sleep apnea, primary and central alveolar hypoventilation syndromes, brainstem disease, metabolic alkalosis, hypothyroidism, hypothermia, smoking or sedentary lifestyle, overweight/obesity, and others.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.