Carbon monoxide poisoning is an under recognized, often misdiagnosed, problem. Accidental deaths due to carbon monoxide poisonings begin to rise this time of year, when cooler weather arrives. Heaters get turned up and windows get shut, trapping carbon monoxide gas, if present, in the home. And some people leave car engines running in closed spaces, either to warm up or during repairs, risking poisoning with the odorless gas.
If one or more members of a household have symptoms of flu or food poisoning, just remember they also live in the same house. It could just be a malfunctioning heating appliance that is causing the symptoms. In classic cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, several family members and their pets are affected. Breath meters, originally developed as smoking cessation aids, are now available.
British Medical Journal? October 23,1999;319:1082-1083.
COMMENT: There are many health care professionals who read this newsletter. This article serves as a timely reminder that we need to be aware that carbon monoxide poisoning is relatively common and rarely recognized. It is something we need to consider when evaluating patients for new complaints of fatigue at this time of year.