Owners' Blog

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning You Should Know

By Hilary and Greg Eldridge

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that can build up in a senior’s blood. When the carbon monoxide content in the air is too high and the senior breathes it in, the body replaces oxygen in red blood cells with the carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide harms the body’s tissues and can cause death if not treated immediately. Because the gas is colorless and odorless, unless you know the symptoms, you may not realize that your aging relative is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms to Watch For

Carbon monoxide is produced when fuel is burned. Therefore, improperly vented appliances, like a water heater or furnace, can cause carbon monoxide levels in the home to increase. Older adults are at a higher risk from carbon monoxide poisoning because they are more likely to develop brain damage due to the exposure. In addition, if your aging relative has a heart condition, anemia, or breathing problems, they are at greater risk.

It can be difficult to determine if an older adult has carbon monoxide poisoning since the symptoms resemble those of other kinds of illnesses. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • A headache that feels dull in nature.
  • Dizziness.
  • Weakness.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Feeling short of breath.
  • Confusion.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Losing consciousness.

If you believe your aging relative is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, get them outside into the fresh air immediately. The senior should receive emergency medical care.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. The most important thing you can do for your aging relative is to make certain there are working detectors in their home. They should be placed in the hallways outside of bedrooms and batteries should be changed at least twice per year. Some other tips for preventing poisoning are:

  • Do not leave the car running in a closed garage. Before starting the car, open the garage door.
  • Use the appliances in the home only for the purpose for which they are intended. For example, don’t use the gas oven to try to heat the home.
  • Make sure heating appliances have proper ventilation, including space heaters.
  • Keep heating systems (furnaces, fireplaces, etc.) in good repair.

Senior care can assist with preventing carbon monoxide poisoning in older adults. A senior care provider can change the batteries in the detectors, eliminating the need for your aging relative to climb on a stepladder or chair, which could lead to a fall. Senior care providers can also watch for unsafe conditions in the home, such as the senior using appliances improperly or an appliance that needs repair. In addition, having someone who checks in on your older family member regularly increases the chances they will receive emergency medical attention if something does go wrong.


If you or an aging loved one is considering hiring senior care in Lilburn, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.