What are the sypmtoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon Monoxide has approximately a 200 time greater affinity (desire to bind with) with haemoglobin (red oxygen carrying blood cells) than oxygen. Consequently, carbon monoxide will take the place of most haemoglobin and stop oxygen from being able to bind to it and travel to the various tissues and vital organs of the body. The key symptoms show that the body is litterally starved of oxygen, and are not that much different than if the patient really was unable to breath.
The Key Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Shortness of breath
General feeling of malaise or feeling unwell
Tricky signs of carbon monoxide poisoning
Unlike normal stages of hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the body) in which a patient looks pale, these patient often appear red or even flushed.
Furthermore, because SaO2 monitors (oxygen saturations) monitor the amount of molecules that are binding with the haemoglobin (and are not able to differentiate between oxygen or carbon monoxide molecules) these patients will almost always read as saturating at 100%.
Late Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
What to do if suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Remove yourself and the patient from the source of the carbon monoxide poisoning. Even just walking outside where there is open air should stop the situation from getting any worse.
Call an Ambulance
Paramedics will provide 100% oxygen which will slowly compete with the carbon monoxide for positions on haemoglobin. Because carbon monoxide has a greater affinity than oxygen for haemoglobin, the only way that oxygen can compete is to saturate the lungs with 100% oxygen until the number of oxygen molecule is much greater than the number of Carbon Monoxide molecules.