Heightened Risk Factors for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, pt. 3 of 4

Who is at Elevated Risk for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

The important thing to remember here is that everyone is at risk of carbon monoxide.  Even if you’re not included in the list of the most vulnerable individuals below, if the levels of carbon monoxide in the air that you’re breathing are at a high enough concentration for a sustained amount of time, it can kill you or at the very least make you very sick.

Exposure to carbon monoxide may be particularly dangerous for:

  • Unborn babies. Fetal blood cells take up carbon monoxide more readily than adult blood cells do. This makes unborn babies more susceptible to harm from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Children. Young children take breaths more frequently than adults do, which may make them more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Older adults. Older people who experience carbon monoxide poisoning may be more likely to develop brain damage.
  • People who have chronic heart disease. People with a history of anemia and breathing problems also are more likely to get sick from exposure to carbon monoxide.
  • Those in whom carbon monoxide poisoning leads to unconsciousness. Loss of consciousness indicates more severe exposure.


Depending on the degree and length of exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause:

  • Permanent brain damage
  • Damage to your heart, possibly leading to life-threatening cardiac complications
  • Fetal death or miscarriage
  • Death

Diagnosing carbon monoxide poisoning

A blood sample is taken by a doctor to determine the amount of CO in your blood. Carbon monoxide exposure is both concentration (how much carbon monoxide is in the air) and time (how long the patient was breathing it), which means that diagnosing carbon monoxide poisoning is a combination of recognizing signs and symptoms, as well as measuring the amount of CO in the bloodstream. Once CO levels increase to 70 parts per million (ppm) and above, symptoms become more noticeable. These symptoms may include nausea, dizziness, and unconsciousness.

Treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning

Quick treatment by a medical professional is essential to prevent life-threatening complications. Treatment may involve a combination of oxygen breathing treatments through a ventilator or placing the affected individual in an oxygen chamber to more quickly increase oxygen levels in the blood.

In cases where prolonged carbon monoxide exposure is suspected doctors may order medical imaging.  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the best way to examine the brain for potential injury from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Need more resources?

Please visit our Carbon Monoxide directory for more resources about carbon monoxide poisoning.

The CDC reports over 20,000 visits to emergency rooms and more than 400 deaths annually from carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S.   A single carbon monoxide related-event can cause organ failure, brain damage and other serious injuries and illnesses which can last for weeks, months or sometimes even a lifetime.  In addition to causing its victims catastrophic and life-altering injuries, the aftermath of dealing with medical treatment and medical bills can wreak havoc on mental well-being and financial stability.



If you or a loved one has been hospitalized or has suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of a leak at a school, a hotel, a rental home or apartment, Airbnb or any other business, we’re here to help.  Please contact our dedicated and specialized carbon monoxide poisoning lawyers today at 615-425-2500 or contact the firm online.  We fight for you.

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