Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer. It has no odor and is produced by fuel-fed appliances such as your gas dryer and furnace. Carbon monoxide is also produced by your vehicle and comes out of the exhaust pipe, this is why it is important to never leave your car running while it is in the garage. When a carbon monoxide leak occurs the results can be harmful to your health and even result in death. Carbon monoxide poisoning affects about 40,000 people in the United States every year, and the CDC reports that roughly 500 people die from unintentional exposure to the gas.
So how do you know if you are being exposed, and how much carbon monoxide is in your system? If you are exhibiting other symptoms or report that you are frequently exposed to sources of carbon monoxide, your doctor will probably order a carboxyhemoglobin blood test. Alternately, if you believe you are at high risk, you can order your own affordable, convenient test or series of tests from us at LabTestPortal.com.
Why is the carboxyhemoglobin test important?
Since carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and tasteless it can be difficult to tell if you are being exposed to it. When you have been exposed to carbon monoxide, it mixes with hemoglobin in the red blood cells to form a complex compound called carboxyhemoglobin. When this compound is formed it restricts the amount of oxygen that is able to get into your body.
Because the symptoms this process causes often mimic other illnesses and common ailments, it can be easy to not know when you have been exposed to carbon monoxide. Acute symptoms include nausea, dizziness, headache, convulsions and even death depending on the levels of carbon monoxide you are exposed to. The higher the levels are, the more severe the reactions will be.
Chronic exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide over time can cause health problems such as depression, recurrent headaches, memory loss and can cause cardiovascular problems to become worse. Those who have been exposed to low levels of carbon monoxide for more than three years frequently develop learning disabilities that were not present before. The onset of these symptoms can be so gradual as to be unnoticeable, and be simply chalked up to age or some other common progression of the life cycle. Proper diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning is only possible through a professional carboxyhemoglobin blood test.
How much carboxyhemoglobin in the blood is too much?
Normal carboxyhemoglobin test results can vary depending on age, gender and medical history. On average, a normal healthy adult without any carbon monoxide exposures results would be below 2.3%. The range is a little higher for those who smoke and can vary between 2.1% and 4.2%. For those who are heavy smokers, the ranges can be even higher between 8% and 9%. This is because cigarette smoke contains small amounts of carbon monoxide. Whether you are a smoker or not, it is important to have a carboxyhemoglobin blood test right away if you believe you have been exposed to carbon monoxide gases. If you believe that you are regularly exposed to carbon monoxide, regular testing is a smart way monitor any effects this exposure may have on your health.
The carboxyhemoglobin test is a simple blood test that is administered when there is a question of carbon monoxide poisoning. It is also used to help monitor people who have been taking medication for carbon monoxide exposure. As with other blood tests, a sample of blood is withdrawn from your vein or artery with a small needle. The procedure is quick and virtually painless. When you have your blood work done through us at LabTestPortal.com, you will find your appointments affordable and convenient, and your results will be available within 24 hours in your own private online personal health record.Author: Dustin Bird