Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, deadly gas. It can kill you before you know it because you can't see it, taste it or smell it. At lower levels of exposure, it can cause health problems. Some people may be more vulnerable to Co poisoning such as fetuses, infants, children, senior citizens and those with heart or lung problems. When CO is breathed in by an individual, it accumulates in the blood and forms a toxic compound known as carboxyhemoglobin (COHb). Hemoglobin carries oxygen in the bloodstream to cells and tissues. Carbon monoxide attaches itself to hemoglobin and displaces the oxygen that the body organs need.
Carboxyhemoglobin can cause headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, confusion and irritability. Later stages of CO poisoning can cause vomiting, loss consciousness and eventually brain damage or death.
Symptoms can mimic a common cold, a hangover, food poisoning, depression or flu (without body ache or fever). If the family's (or pet's) symptoms decrease when away from the house, seek medical treatment or get a carboxyhemoglobin level blood test for CO poisoning. Some of the symptoms can also include are:
Blurred vision, burning eyes
Chest pain (angina) when exercising
Confusion, disorientation, loss of muscle control
Dizziness, ringing in the ears
Nausea and vomiting
Persistent throbbing headaches
Rapid heartbeat or pulse, fluttering of throbbing of the heart, tightening of the chest