Is it the Flu or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and poisonous gas that causes more than 400 accidental deaths in the United States each year. A total of 823 Michigan residents suffered unintentional CO poisoning resulting in 34 deaths in 2013, according to a report issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Often called “The Silent Killer,” carbon monoxide poisoning can often be mistaken for the common flu.

Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and the flu:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fatigue
  • dizziness

Although carbon monoxide poisoning and the common flu share similar symptoms, it may be carbon monoxide poisoning if:

  • Symptoms alleviate when you are outside your home
  • Several members in the home are ill simultaneously (the flu is usually passed from person to person)
  • Indoor pets are ill (pets may show signs first)
  • You don’t have a fever, generalized aching, or swollen lymph nodes (typical with a cold or virus or flu)

Suspect Carbon Monoxide in Your Home?

Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, unconsciousness and eventually death. Follow these steps if you suspect carbon monoxide in your home:

  1. Get everyone out of the house and into fresh air
  2. Call 911 for immediate medical help
  3. Do not re-enter your home under any circumstance until help has arrived, your house has been investigated and the problem is corrected.
  4. Call a qualified contractor or gas utility to have your appliances checked.

For more information about how you can protect you and your loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning, visit Centers of Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/co/