Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is mentioned because it is often overlooked.

Any patient who presents to the ED with a headache should be asked about possible exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) from, for example:

  • Faulty vehicle exhausts
  • Poorly-maintained, or inadequately ventilated, gas appliances

Learning Bite

If more than one person from the same vehicle or household presents with headache, CO exposure is the most probable cause.

Other symptoms including somnolence, nausea and cherry red appearance (although a late and peri-mortem sign)

Diagnosis is with measurement of carboxyhaemoglobin levels on ABG