Carbon monoxide poisoning - Treatment 

Treating carbon monoxide poisoning 

Seek immediate advice from your GP or local accident and emergency department if you think you have carbon monoxide poisoning.

Your symptoms will often indicate whether you have carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, but a blood test will confirm the amount of carboxyhaemoglobin in your blood. A level of 30% indicates severe exposure.

Mild carbon monoxide poisoning doesn't usually need hospital treatment, but it is still important that you seek medical advice.

Your house will also need to be checked for safety before anyone returns. Read more about what to do if you suspect a leak.

Standard oxygen therapy

Exposure to a high amount of carbon monoxide gas is treated with oxygen therapy. You will be given 100% oxygen through a tight-fitting mask (normal air contains around 21% oxygen).

Breathing in concentrated oxygen enables your body to replace carboxyhaemoglobin quicker. You will continue to receive oxygen therapy until your carboxyhaemoglobin levels decrease to less than 10%.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) floods the body with pure oxygen, helping it to overcome the oxygen shortage caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Currently, there is insufficient evidence regarding the long-term effectiveness of HBOT for treating severe cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. Therefore, standard oxygen therapy (as described above) is usually the recommended treatment option.

However, HBOT may be recommended in certain situations, such as where there has been extensive exposure to carbon monoxide, and nerve damage is suspected. The use of HBOT will be decided on a case-by-case basis.


Page last reviewed: 21/06/2014

Next review due: 21/06/2016

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

plumblob said on 04 November 2012

People often think carbon monoxide poisoning is from gas burning appliances & it is but it also is from other fuels as you mention, my wife & I were exposed to to it from a wood burner in a bedroom at a property in Spain.
We both were exposed to it for some considerable time & drifted in & out conscious, we were taken to a local hospital & then transfered to a major hospital for Standard Oxygen Therapy.
We have both recovered with a few side eftects but we both know how close we were to loosing our lives, be aware - very aware that all fossil fuel can kill given the wrong circumstanses.

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wolfemurray said on 19 January 2011

I'm delighted that the NHS is recommending hyperbaric oxygen treatment for CO poisoning, but it's a shame the NHS doesn't recommend this treatment for the wide range of other ailments it can help with -- such as liver and heart disease, MS and plenty of others. At Castle Craig Hospital in Scotland (www.castlecraig.co.uk) we are carrying out research with Edinburgh University about its impact on liver disease.

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