Carbon monoxide poisoning treatment may or may not be needed depending on the level of exposure to the gas. Before treatment begins, it’s important for the patient to be moved away from areas of high concentration because this prevents further inhalation of carbon monoxide (CO). The symptoms are then assessed to decide whether hospital treatment is required. If the symptoms are moderate or severe, treatment in a hospital often includes inhaling oxygen through a face mask. In the worst cases, a treatment known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy is sometimes employed, although its effectiveness has been questioned.
The first step in carbon monoxide poisoning treatment is to move the patient away from areas that have high concentrations of the gas. This is very important because extra exposure to CO gas can make the problem worse. Once in a safe place, the patient is usually examined to check the severity of symptoms. Treatment depends on how severe the symptoms are and how long the person was exposed to the gas.
Some of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, headaches, and nausea. In some cases, depending on the level of poisoning, a person may suffer from more serious symptoms such as fits, stomach pain, and hyperventilation. Carbon monoxide poisoning treatment often partly focuses on treating these symptoms and making sure that the patient is as comfortable and safe as possible.
When a person suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning is first assessed, a blood sample is often taken to check the gas concentration. If a high concentration is found in the blood, or if the symptoms are moderate to severe, then it’s likely that the patient needs to have carbon monoxide poisoning treatment in the hospital. In most cases, hospital treatment begins with giving the patient 100 percent oxygen through a mask. This helps to speed up the process of replacing the poisonous gas with oxygen in the blood.
In severe cases, carbon monoxide poisoning treatment sometimes involves a procedure called hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This treatment can be especially important if there is a chance of nerve damage from inhalation of the gas. During hyperbaric therapy, the patient is put in a pressure chamber with high levels of oxygen. This allows the oxygen to travel deep into the body quicker than through a face mask alone. Those who have lost consciousness or pregnant are sometimes candidates for this type of therapy.