When to suspect CO poisoning

Always consider CO poisoning as a cause of symptoms, particularly if more than one member of a household (including pets) are affected. CO poisoning presentations depend on the severity of the exposure based on concentration and exposure time.

At low levels, it can easily be mistaken for a flu-like illness, food poisoning, or depression.

Suspect CO poisoning when:

  • Clinical features of poisoning are present, and
  • Exposure to a potential source of carbon monoxide has occurred, particularly if
    • Symptoms correlate with exposure
    • There are unexplained symptoms that resolve on leaving a building
    • There is an unconscious patient, especially if more than one and indoors
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