The Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Recognising the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning could save your life

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can mimic many common ailments and may easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or tiredness. Because carbon monoxide is so difficult for humans to detect, it’s important to stay aware of physical warning signs so you can seek immediate treatment. For more information on the causes of carbon monoxide poisoning, see potential sources.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Pains in the chest
  • Stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Visual problems

Although the most commonly reported symptoms are headaches, dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, difficulty breathing, vomiting, tiredness and confusion. The longer you are exposed to the carbon monoxide leak, the worse your symptoms will be. You will probably find that your symptoms only occur when you’re at home as you’ll be near to the faulty appliance – you’re likely to feel much better when you leave the house, only to feel unwell again once you return. Pets can also be affected, so keep a careful eye on them for similar symptoms.

For more information visit the NHS website.

What are the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning?

If untreated, exposure to carbon monoxide gas can prevent red blood cells from carrying oxygen to body tissue. Long term effects can include brain damage, including problems with memory, mood, behaviour and language. In some severe cases, movement can be effected in a manner similar to Parkinson’s disease.

Click here to find out more about what to do if you suspect you or a member of your household may be suffering from CO gas poisoning.

Next: What to do if affected by carbon monoxide