A Pennsylvania carbon monoxide poisoning sent three adults and two infants to the hospital, according to Standard Speaker. Firefighters were sent to a couple of homes that had elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

One side of the duplex had levels at 140 ppm with levels at 106 ppm in the sleeping area. The other side had levels at 40 ppm. It was not clear how long the levels were elevated. This was difficult to determine as the residents did not speak English.

Exposure to carbon monoxide at levels of 140 ppm can raise carboxyhemoglobin levels in the blood to above 10 percent. This seems to be the threshold where brain damage has about a 40 percent likelihood to occur.

Carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in the blood. Hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen, binds to carbon monoxide instead of the cell-feeding oxygen. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, damage can occur. In addition, carbon monoxide poisoning actually creates an excess of a neuron-killing neurotransmitter in the brain.

The most concerning part of this news story is that it affected two infants. With bodies that are much smaller than adults, infants and small children have a higher risk factor. Carbon monoxide can overtake them at a faster rate than adults. This is also true for small pets in the home.

The source of the carbon monoxide in the Pennsylvania carbon monoxide poisoning was likely the coal-burning furnaces. Both homes affected had coal-burning heat. Firefighters, who shut down the furnaces and ventilated the homes, said that the both of the furnaces had a lot of soot.

With cooler temperatures, the need for operating furnaces is still here. It is a good idea to have your furnace checked out every year to make sure it is clean and no vents are being blocked. Doing so can help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning like this one in Pennsylvania.

One of the residents was complaining of a headache, just one of the symptoms that can be caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, confusion, and disorientation. Chest pains can also be a sign that there is elevated carbon monoxide in the air. Seizures and coma are also possible.

These symptoms might be the immediate signs that something is wrong, called the acute symptoms. This is reason enough to call for help from emergency personnel immediately. If you feel these symptoms and suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get to fresh air immediately and call for help.

There are many more symptoms that can occur after the initial carbon monoxide poisoning, called delayed symptoms. In the weeks following the poisoning, delayed neurological sequelae can occur. These symptoms include memory loss, movement disorders, Parkinson-like syndrome, communication disturbances, depressed mood, dementia and psychosis.

It has been scientifically proven that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can actually decrease the risk of cognitive sequelae if administered after acute carbon monoxide poisoning. It is our hope that the people in the Pennsylvania carbon monoxide poisoning were made aware of the risks of CO poisoning and were given hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

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