Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.


Last week I posted three blogs about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from portable electrical generators. It happened again March 2, 2016. Five people were taken to the hospital as a result of running an electrical generator inside a home in Waterloo, Iowa. See  http://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Five-Hospitalized-for-Carbon-Monoxide-Poisoning-in-Waterloo-370896931.html

The article doesn’t say where they bought the generator or why, but we must again stress how important it is not only that consumers not run generators inside a building, but that retailers and manufacturers do everything within their power to eliminate this source of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The story also has this all too familiar tag line: “All five people are expected to recover firefighters said.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One of the occupants was found unconscious. That means that person likely had carboxyhemoglobin levels above 30, perhaps as high as 50. Those levels are likely to leave permanent damage. Both heart damage and brain damage are likely at those levels. One must also wonder whether the other occupants might have had similar levels as they were likely exposed to the same toxic inside air.

Perhaps as I write this, it is not too late for those poisoned to still get hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Such intervention can make a major difference in whether the occupants have a satisfactory recovery. Without hyperbaric oxygen treatment, the chance of a good recovery drops significantly.

Regaining consciousness after carbon monoxide exposure is not the measure of recovery. Carbon monoxide can have delayed effects, called delayed neurological sequelae, or DNS, which can involve a severe relapse in symptoms, for several months after the exposure. If you have been poisoned, it is critical that you pay attention to the symptoms that evolve after discharge from the hospital. Those symptoms are particularly likely to anyone with these type of exposures who did not receive hyperbaric oxygen treatment.

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