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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. Poisoning occurs by inhalation, such as during a fire or a suicide attempt. Carbon monoxide interferes with the red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen to the tissues and is also poisonous to cells within the body. For example, it can permanently destroy nerve cells in the brain. Carbon monoxide causes many chemical changes which lead to brain and other organ damage. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to treat carbon monoxide poisoning because it works to oxygenate areas of tissue which are not receiving enough oxygen from the red blood cells. It also helps stop the chemical changes that lead to organ damage. Hyperbaric oxygen prevents some of the blood vessel injury caused by carbon monoxide as well.

The goal of using hyperbaric therapy for carbon monoxide poisoning is to reduce the neurological and other effects from carbon monoxide and provide oxygen support to the individual to prevent further damage from lack of oxygen. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a medical emergency and is best treated in an in hospital facility.