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Potentially life-threatening emergency
Carbon monoxide poisoning
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Potentially life-threatening emergency

Carbon monoxide poisoning

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Contributors: Benjamin L. Mazer MD, MBA
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Synopsis

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a common cause of both accidental and intentional poisoning. Patients experience neurologic dysfunction ranging from headache and dizziness to seizure and coma. Nausea is a frequent accompanying symptom. Cherry-red skin and mucous membrane coloration is characteristic of CO poisoning but often absent. CO is produced from the combustion of carbon-containing materials. Fires and car exhaust are the most common precipitants of CO poisoning.

CO produces toxicity by binding to red blood cell hemoglobin, disrupting oxygen binding, and leading to tissue hypoxia. Treatment primarily involves supportive care, particularly oxygen administration, and removal from the contaminated environment. After removal of CO from the environment, CO will dissociate from hemoglobin within hours.

Pediatric Patient Considerations:
Infants and younger children may experience the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning before older children and adults in the household, and the effects may be nonspecific (irritability, poor feeding).

Codes

ICD10CM:
T58.94XA – Toxic effect of carbon monoxide from unspecified source, undetermined, initial encounter

SNOMEDCT:
17383000 – Toxic effect of carbon monoxide

Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

Best Tests

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References

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Last Updated: 07/26/2017
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Potentially life-threatening emergency
Carbon monoxide poisoning
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Carbon monoxide poisoning (Common Symptoms) : Dizziness, Headache, Nausea
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