In carbon monoxide poisoning, the amount of gas inhaled as well as the total duration of exposure play a huge role in the probable outcome in the health of an individual. It can be acute, which means that the exposure occurred over a span of minutes to a few hours. In other situations, exposure can occur over many days, weeks, or months.
Research has proven that carbon monoxide long-term side effects do not present themselves immediately. Instead, symptoms may develop after several weeks from the initial exposure. Because of this, the symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed and under-reported because the person himself does not feel that something is wrong. However, failure to go for medical consultation may worsen the prognosis.
Carbon monoxide long-term side effects frequently target the central nervous system. Because the central nervous system controls most of the processes related to mental status and judgment, breathing in carbon monoxide can affect a person’s memory, brain function, behavior, and mental cognition over the long term. Disorientation and confusion are common symptoms. Relatives and close friends may also detect personality changes including feelings of depression and anxiety. Other physical impairments may be noticed, such as urinary and fecal incontinence. Mobility is likewise compromised and ataxia or a shuffling gait is usually seen.
Some carbon monoxide long-term side effects may be unrecognized because the symptoms are non-specific. Complaints of headaches, nausea, fatigue and a generalized body weakness may make it difficult to pinpoint the origin of such maladies.
In many cases, the symptoms may wear off within a certain time period after the provision of prompt treatment. However, if there is extensive organ damage, the effects remain permanent even with advanced medical support.
Everyone must take responsibility for ensuring their own safety against exposure to this gas in order to avoid serious health problems or even death. Self-education as well as participating in health awareness programs can be very helpful. One must also constantly exercise vigilance to reduce the risks of carbon monoxide exposure in the home and in the workplace.