Skip to content

First Aid & Emergencies

Font Size
A
A
A

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Results continued...

High blood carbon monoxide values are caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms become more severe as the carbon monoxide levels increase.

Symptoms related to high carbon monoxide values 1
Percent of total hemoglobin Symptoms

20%–30%

Headache, nausea, vomiting, and trouble making decisions

30%–40%

Dizziness, muscle weakness, vision problems, confusion, and increased heart rate and breathing rate

50%–60%

Loss of consciousness

Over 60%

Seizures, coma, death

Women and children usually have fewer red blood cells than men do. So women and children may have more severe symptoms at lower levels.

What Affects the Test

  • If you smoke, you already have some carbon monoxide in your blood.
  • People who are regularly exposed to car exhaust, such as taxi drivers and traffic police, often have high carbon monoxide levels (8% to 12%).

What To Think About

  • Anyone who may have been exposed to carbon monoxide and has symptoms should be tested for carbon monoxide poisoning. For example, you should be tested if you live in a house with an old heating system and you have ongoing headaches.
  • If you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning, you should leave the place of likely exposure and get oxygen to breathe before you are tested.
  • You may also have other tests, such as an arterial blood gases test and a complete blood count. The blood gases test may be done to find out if you have carbon monoxide poisoning or another disease that causes similar symptoms.

Citations

  1. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerR. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology

Current as ofAugust 7, 2014

1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 07, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

First Aid A-Z

  • There are no topics that begin with 'O'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'Q'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'U'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'X'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'Y'
  • There are no topics that begin with 'Z'

Today on WebMD

Antibiotic on hand
Slideshow
3d scan of fractured skull
Slideshow
 
Father putting ointment on boy's face
Slideshow
Person taking food from oven
Q&A
 
sniffling child
Slideshow
wound care true or false
Slideshow
 
caring for wounds
Slideshow
Harvest mite
Slideshow
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

WebMD the app

Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

Find Out More