Symptoms of Chronic Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning (COP) is relatively common, resulting in about 20,000 ER visits annually. Most is these injuries can be avoided by installing inexpensive home CO detectors. While home CO detectors are great for one-time, high-level CO leaks. They are not designed to detect low-levels. Low-levels result in very slowly progressive symptoms. The only way to detect low-levels is to have your home appliances and cars tested.

Early Signs and Symptoms

Progressive Symptoms

  • Irregular heart beat

  • Joint pain

  • Lactic acidosis

  • Loss of appetite

  • Muscle deterioration and/or loss (rhabdomyolysis)

  • Muscle pain

  • Muscle spasms (hypnogogic myoclonus)

  • Panic attacks

  • Peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, loss-of-feeling, pain, pins & needles in feet, fingers, hands)

  • Psychosis

  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)

  • Reduced circulation

  • Respiratory decline

  • Ringing in ears (tinnitus)

  • Seizures or convulsions/spasms/tics

  • Stiffness

  • Tooth ache/loss

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Weight loss


  • ADD / ADHD

  • Anemia

  • Asthma

  • Autism/Asperger's

  • Blurred/ Painful Vision

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Depression

  • Dermatitis

  • Epilepsy

  • Fahr syndrome

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Heart disease and/or congestive heart failure

  • Hypokalemia

  • IBS/Chrones Disease

  • Inflammation

  • Lupus


Current research suggests there are no effective biomarker for medical personnel to accurately diagnose chronic CO poisoning.  The half-life of COHb is 4-6 hours and test accuracy decreases every hour you wait. For example, if you feel nauseated after cooking on a malfunctioning stove and decide to see a doctor, it takes time to make an appointment, discuss your concerns with the doctor, get a script for the blood-work and have the blood drawn. Realistically, this process could take 6-36 hours, rendering the test ineffective. Furthermore, even if you are able to have blood drawn within the hour, only the very latest exposure will show up. 

To make matters worse, most CO detectors are designed to prevent deaths from high-levels of CO, not injuries from chronic exposure to low-levels. As such, home CO detectors have a time weighted average and may not alarm for 3 - 4 hours after CO levels reach 70 ppm.

Professionals have not yet agreed upon what qualifies as a safe amount of CO for long-term exposure. Some people feel symptoms when exposed to CO as low as 3 ppm. Many fire departments evacuate a home if CO reaches 9 ppm.  We believe a personal CO detector is a must to properly protect your family from this orderless, colorless, toxic gas. Portable detectors can easily fit on a handbag, briefcase, or backpack. Once you become familiar with your individual body’s reaction to CO, you can determine your personal sensitivity level and plan accordingly.

Please remember to test appliances frequently, fix all leaks, and aim for a 0 ppm target. If you suspect CO poisoning, don’t wait. Protect your family today. The gas company will come out at no charge to check your appliances and ensure your home is CO safe.