Carbon monoxide poisoning, how to diagnose this silent killer

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are very similar to that of a general cold or flu and as a result can not only be overlooked by the sufferer but can also result in a misdiagnosis by your GP.

The main symptoms suffered are headaches, nausea and vomiting, vertigo type symptoms, an alteration in consciousness and lethargy. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increase as the cold weather begins and fires and heating systems are put back into service after the summer.

There is one very significant factor to consider if you have any of the symptoms above but are unsure if it is a cold, flu or indeed due to carbon monoxide being present. The symptoms from carbon monoxide can subside and even disappear when you are not in the area where the carbon monoxide is present. You may notice that when you go out to the shops or to work that your symptoms are much better but shortly after returning home the symptoms increase again. Cold and flu symptoms usually last no longer than a week; if your symptoms continue after this period consider the possibility that it could be as a result of carbon monoxide.

If you suspect that your symptoms could be due to carbon monoxide, act swiftly. Alert your doctor of your suspicions, contact either your gas supplier if you have gas appliances or alternatively contact your local council who can advise you who you need to call. Carbon monoxide can be produced by the incomplete combustion of all fossil fuel, gas, oil, coal, coke and wood. Carbon monoxide alarms are also available which will alert you should the levels of carbon monoxide rise above acceptable levels.

Carbon monoxide on holiday

The tragic death of two young children that occurred as the result of a faulty boiler installation in Corfu in 2006 has been highlighted again as two Thomas Cook employees appeared in court accused of manslaughter.

The deaths of Christianne and Robert Shepherd, aged seven and six, was caused through carbon monoxide leaking from a boiler and seeping through the walls of their holiday bungalow in Corfu.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas that occurs from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. It is essential to have appliances checked on a yearly basis to ensure that they are in good working order and are not emitting this poisonous gas.

Alarms are available to help detect if carbon monoxide is present, enabling the occupants to escape before the gas renders them unconcious. These devices are inexpensive and can be taken with you when you go on holiday, giving you piece of mind wherever you are.

You can read more about the current prosecution against Thomas Cook’s employees.