Today in Neighborhood Health Watch, we're discussing carbon monoxide poisoning and a treatment called hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas, known as the "silent killer." CO is found in fumes produced by burning fuel, such as cars, stoves, grills, fireplaces, furnaces and indoor tractor pulls. Poor ventilation allows these fumes to build up.
Early symptoms include headaches, nausea, and fatigue. It can build up in a person's bloodstream and cause serious problems.
Dr. Stephen Crossland with Chippenham-Johnston Willis Hospital says emergency rooms usually see an uptick in patients suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning during winter months.
"There was an uptick after the Hurricane Katrina and in 2005 - and why is that? People lost power. Their portable generators, they brought them inside or they put them near the homes. Portable generators should be at least 25 feet away from the home if you are going to run one.
"It's called the silent killer. How treatable is it. It's also called the invisible killer, and it's not irritating. You should always remember, if you smell fumes from a combustible engine, you are breathing carbon monoxide."
In emergency rooms, patients are given hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It is an intense amount of oxygen to reverse the effects.
Dr. Crossland says if this should happen to you or a family member at home, get the person into fresh air and call 911.