Carbon Monoxide Headquarters

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Pitfalls in the Clinical Diagnosis of CO Poisoning:

  • Clinical signs and symptoms do not always match COHb levels

  • Cherry red color of skin, lips and nail beds, usually considered to be classical sign, is not consistently present. There may also be cyanosis due to respiratory depression

  • Some symptoms are aggravated by pre-existing disease, such as intermittent claudication

  • Tachypnea is frequently absent because the carotid body is responsive to PO2, not arterial blood oxygen content

  • CO poisoning is frequently misdiagnosed as:
    --- Migraine headache
    --- Stroke
    --- Psychiatric illness
    --- Food poisoning
    --- Acute ethanol intoxication or delerium tremens
    --- Heart disease

  • Misdiagnoses in CO Poisoning

    Barret Study of Misdiagnosis

    ...... last changed 10/15/01

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