Long Term Effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is a potentially deadly gas that can have devastating effects upon your life – assuming, of course, that it doesn’t kill you.

This gas has no taste, colour or odour, and can be breathed in over a short or long period of time without you even knowing that it is present.

Depending on the levels of carbon monoxide that are breathed in to the body, you may suffer short term effects or permanent damage.

Again depending upon the levels of carbon monoxide breathed in, this gas could prove fatal and can cause a gradual death or can kill within minutes.

The reason why carbon monoxide is so harmful is that it displaces the levels of oxygen within the blood, which results in the death of cells and damage to major organs, which are subsequently starved of oxygen. This lack of oxygen in the blood is known as anoxia. This can lead to a range of symptoms and effects, both short term and long term depending on the levels of gas breathed in and the duration over which you are exposed to carbon monoxide.

The long term effects of poisoning by carbon monoxide can be extremely serious. The long term effects of breathing in carbon monoxide can affect:

  • memory;
  • brain function;
  • behaviour;
  • cognition.

It can also cause permanent damage to other major organs within the body, such as the heart.

It is thought that the hippocampus, which is the section of the brain that deals with new memories, can be particularly susceptible to long term damage from CO poisoning.

The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning over the long term may be subtle or may be very severe, depending on the extent of poisoning:

Up to forty percent of those poisoned can suffer problems that range from amnesia, headaches and memory loss to personality and behavioural changes, loss of muscle and bladder control and impairment of co-ordination and vision.

Many of these long term effects are not immediate and may present themselves several weeks after exposure.

In many cases, the symptoms may wear off within a certain time period.

However, in some cases the effects are permanent: particularly in the case of organ damage and brain damage.

Some of the long term effects of low level exposure are still unknown, so it can often be difficult to ascertain what sort of effect this hazardous gas may have upon your life.

Although the majority of people that suffer long-term effects from carbon monoxide poisoning do recover in time, there are those that will suffer permanent damage.

It is vital that everyone takes responsibility for ensuring their safety against exposure to this gas in order to avoid serious problems or even death. There is more information and better resources available on the subject of carbon monoxide than ever before these days, making it easier for people to protect themselves and others from the dangers of CO poisoning.

By educating yourself, raising awareness, and exercising vigilance you can dramatically reduce the risks of carbon monoxide both within your home and in the workplace.


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