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Rod Brouhard, EMT  P

How Long Does It Take for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

By November 30, 2012

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There's a theme in the questions I get about carbon monoxide poisoning. Here's part of an email I received from a reader:

For four months we have been renting a house with gas dryer, oven, stove-top, hot water and gas-fired baseboard hot water registers.

My four-year-old son and I weren't feeling well, headache, fatigue, purple shiners under our eyes, breathlessness during exercise. I blamed it on mold discovered in the basement. We are allergic, so I thought most of our symptoms were from that. Since the mold discovery, I've also been having problems with high blood pressure.

It turns out, the exhaust pipe from the furnace was not hooked up and leaking into the basement.

I opened all the windows and we spent an entire day out of the house. Do we still need to see a doctor?

There's just no way to answer this question -- not to mention that I'm not a doctor and I can't give medical advice. More research on long-term, low-level carbon monoxide exposure is needed to help your healthcare provider figure out how to handle situations like this.

Indeed, I think this type of low-level exposure is pretty common. I wonder how many headaches and bouts of nausea we blame on everything from migraines to red wine are really from low-level carbon monoxide poisoning. Until emergency responders start checking everyone for carbon monoxide levels, we'll likely never know.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is pretty common in the winter months. Now that furnaces and fireplaces are getting a workout, it's time to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector may be the only way to tell if carbon monoxide is making an appearance in your home.

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