Carbon monoxide is a fairly common gas. The vast majority of us are likely to be exposed to it quite often, but not usually in doses that are dangerous to us. It is commonly encountered as a by-product of burning fossil fuels, although it does occur naturally in some places as well. It is particularly dangerous in gas leaks in homes.
Carbon monoxide binds with the hemoglobin in our blood. This is a problem for us because it then means our blood is unable to carry oxygen. This essentially causes our bodies to slowly suffocate, and it can be deadly if we don’t get access to oxygen-rich air in time.
Carbon monoxide is often known as a silent killer because it is completely odorless. It has killed millions of people that inhaled it while sleeping.
Symptom #1: Breathing Difficulties
Every time our lungs expand, they draw fresh air into them. This air is usually rich in oxygen, which is absorbed into the blood and then carried around the rest of the body. In some circumstances, such as after exercising, we will need to breath harder in order to meet a higher demand for oxygen.
In the case of carbon monoxide poisoning, the lungs will be made to work harder to try and get more oxygen into the system. This will likely be in vain, though, because they are just breathing in more carbon monoxide. Breathing difficulties are potentially life-threatening so they should always be taken seriously.