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Carbon Monoxide (CO) is likely to be the most common cause of poisoning worldwide. This poisoning often results in persistent neuropathological, cardiac and cognitive sequela. CO poisoning is complicated by a myriad of symptoms, misdiagnosis, misunderstandings, confusion concerning the how and where, coupled with the confusion of how and when to treat it.
CO is a non-irritating, colorless, tasteless and odorless gas, it is difficult for people to detect. CO easily mixes with air and is found wherever organic material is burned under conditions of incomplete combustion, such as the internal combustion engine, the burning of wood, propane and charcoal. In the United States alone, it is reported approximately 40,000 emergency room visits each year with over 800 reported deaths per year related to CO poisoning. However, with the high number of misdiagnosis, these numbers maybe simply be under reported.
CO combines with the hemoglobin resulting in a complex molecule known as carboxyhemoglobin. This complex is then unable to transport oxygen to the body’s tissues because of hemoglobin’s affinity for CO, which is over 200 times that of oxygen. A prime example is the fact that rapid breathing during heavy exercise can cause a 30 % increase of CO levels just after a 2 minute exposure to 1% carbon monoxide. Hemoglobin’s affinity to carbon monoxide is a fatal flaw of the human circulatory system.
Signs and symptoms of CO poisoning vary from patient to patient, exposure to exposure . Many of the acute symptoms are flu-like, and are easily mistaken for the flu, they include but not limited to: headaches, generalized weakness, dizziness, nausea and/or vomiting, shortness of breath, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), angina, seizures, confusion, blurred vision, loss of consciousness and even the possibility of coma. The end results can result in death or in a sequela of problems resulting in permanent brain damage, damage to the muscle of the heart and/or permanent organ damage. Cognitive problems and short term memory problems can manifest down the road and may not be associated with the exposure. Personality deterioration, mental retardation, frank psychosis and visual impairment have also been documented. Other reported symptoms include apraxia (the inability to carry out and execute learned purposeful movements), apathy, difficulty walking, incontinence (the ability to control bowel or bladder), movement disorders, seizures, hallucinations, blindness, and dementia. The long term effects of CO poisoning can be life changing and have debilitating consequences and should be taken very seriously.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has been documented as the most effective way of treating CO poisoning. Treatment should begin as soon as the diagnosis of CO poisoning is documented. Please note that the length of exposure, nor amount of CO can predict of the amount of damage to the human tissues.
At Skaggs Chiropractic in Joplin, our chiropractor treats CO poisoning with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. We are available for emergency treatment for the surrounding cities of Neosho, Carthage, Sarcoxie, Diamond, Duenweg, Webb City, Carl Junction, Oronogo, Loma Linda, Seneca, Goodman, Granby, MO and Pittsburg, Galena, Baxter Springs, Riverton, Columbus, KS, as well as Quapaw, OK. Give us a call at 417-624-4242 and see what quality care is all about.