Definitions of CMP

carbon monoxide poisoning

According to abbreviationfinder, CMP stands for carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning can go unnoticed and is life-threatening. The gas displaces vital oxygen from the blood. Poorly maintained furnaces are the number one cause of carbon monoxide poisoning.

What is carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning manifests itself with symptoms such as nausea, headaches and irregular breathing (“Cheyne-Stokes breathing”). A pink discoloration of the skin is typical.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is intoxication with the gas carbon monoxide, or carbon monoxide in technical terms. In terms of medical terminology, the term carbon monoxide intoxication is therefore defined. Poisoning can present as an acute life-threatening crisis or as a chronic poisoning that progresses with no obvious symptoms.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless gas with no odor. The substance consists of a carbon atom bonded to an oxygen atom. The chemical name is CO (C: carbon, O: oxygen). The molecule shows great structural similarity to oxygen (O2: 2 oxygen atoms per molecule).

Ultimately, this is also the basis of the toxic effect of carbon monoxide. Instead of oxygen, the gas binds to physiologically important structures in the metabolism. There, the vital breathing gas is displaced and carbon monoxide poisoning occurs.


Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by a blockage of the red blood pigment (hemoglobin), which hardly absorbs any oxygen. This oxidizing agent can no longer or only insufficiently be carried to the places of consumption.

The result is an oxygen shortage in the organs. Carbon monoxide means double stress for the muscle cells : They have an inner transport protein for oxygen, the myoglobin, which is similar to hemoglobin. The carbon monoxide also works here in the same way.

In addition, carbon monoxide suppresses energy production (“combustion”) in all body cells very directly. This is called internal asphyxiation and is a lesser-known cause of carbon monoxide poisoning.

An increased concentration of carbon monoxide in the air we breathe can have several causes:

1) Incomplete combustion: Poor draft coal, wood or gas stoves, car and industrial exhaust fumes, fires

2) Natural concentration peaks in caves and mines

Both causes usually lead to accidents. However, some people use car exhaust when attempting suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning depend on the concentration of the gas in the air we breathe and the length of time someone is exposed to the poison. Symptoms range from moderate dizziness to death from lack of oxygen.

Based on the number of particles per million (ppm) in the air we breathe, it is possible to determine approximate limit values ​​for the occurrence of symptoms in the case of carbon monoxide poisoning. At 35 ppm, only dizziness and headaches occur after several hours. Above 200 ppm, the ability to make judgments can become clouded and headaches can occur more quickly. At 400 ppm, very severe headaches occur within two hours.

Above 800 ppm, cramps, nausea and unconsciousness occur within two hours. The heart rate increases from a concentration of 1,600 ppm, whereby death can occur after a few hours. At 3,200 ppm, death can be expected within half an hour. From 6,400 ppm seizures complement the symptoms. Death occurs within twenty minutes.

At 12,800 ppm, fainting occurs after a few breaths and death within minutes. In children, sick and old people, however, lower concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air are sufficient to trigger severe symptoms.

Diagnosis & History

Carbon monoxide poisoning manifests itself with symptoms such as nausea, headaches and irregular breathing (“Cheyne-Stokes breathing”). A pink discoloration of the skin is typical. These complaints already threaten at a concentration of 0.03% of the gas in the air. This value can already be reached in large cities with high traffic volumes.

In more severe cases, convulsions and eventual loss of consciousness occur. The doctor directly detects the haemoglobin-bound carbon monoxide in the blood count. Severe acute and chronic carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to serious consequential damage to the nervous system and muscles.

Even a concentration of 1% carbon monoxide in the ambient air causes death within a few minutes. Because hemoglobin binds the poison gas 200 times more strongly than oxygen and therefore quickly accumulates in the blood. Therefore, even low concentrations lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.


Carbon monoxide poisoning imposes a very serious burden on the human body. If the poisoning is not treated in a timely manner or if it continues for a long period of time, the patient may become unconscious or, in the worst case, even die. Because of this, carbon monoxide poisoning needs to be treated very quickly.

Those affected primarily suffer from acute shortness of breath and headaches. Shortness of breath can also lead to panic attacks or sweating. Unconsciousness usually results if inhalation of large amounts of carbon monoxide is not stopped.

The patient can be injured by falling. If there is no rescue after that, the person concerned dies. Likewise, the internal organs and nerves are damaged by carbon monoxide poisoning, so that irreversible consequential damage can occur even after a rescue. It is not uncommon for carbon monoxide poisoning to cause psychological problems.

There are no further complications during the treatment itself. However, it does not always lead to a positive course of the disease. Carbon monoxide poisoning may reduce life expectancy.

When should you go to the doctor?

If someone suspects that someone you know has carbon monoxide poisoning, call an ambulance immediately. This is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate action. Immediate emergency medical care can prevent or minimize permanent consequential damage. In addition to acute carbon monoxide poisoning, chronic carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur.

The symptoms of chronic carbon monoxide poisoning last for several weeks. The cause must be searched for intensively. The poisoning must be treated professionally. Possible sources of carbon monoxide exposure may be in a clogged chimney or a garage that has not been adequately ventilated.

Treatment & Therapy

Carbon monoxide poisoning requires immediate expulsion of the toxic gas from the blood. In addition, the patient experiences hyperbaric oxygenation. This is artificial respiration with 100% oxygen.

In the simplest case, the administration takes place via a breathing mask, sometimes the patient is also intubated. A tube is a fixed tube in the trachea, which is unavoidable at the latest when unconsciousness occurs. Hyperbaric chambers are a very effective, fast-acting method that, unfortunately, will not be available everywhere.

Patients must be constantly monitored so that the doctor can intervene immediately in the event of cardiovascular complications. The control also includes blood values ​​to clarify the detoxification status. In addition, if the blood is too acidic, bicarbonate (soda) must be given by infusion.

Follow-up treatment may require rehabilitation aimed at alleviating subsequent damage. In the case of suicide attempts, the psychiatrist also dedicates himself to the patient after surviving carbon monoxide poisoning.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis for carbon monoxide poisoning varies. If there was no carbon monoxide warning device in the home, camper, or garage of those affected, they would not notice the odorless poison. It often escapes from defective gas heaters or a charcoal grill placed in the apartment that is still burning out. Just a few breaths of the smoke gas are enough to cause unconsciousness. Just a few more breaths will inevitably lead to death.

If the people involved are rescued at the right time or if the carbon monoxide warning device goes off, the prospects are better. In many cases, for example, campers or visitors to a shisha bar could be rescued in good time from severely increased carbon monoxide levels. The patients must be supplied with oxygen immediately so that they do not die from the smoke gases they have already inhaled. Because of the duration of the amount of CO2 that can be breathed out outdoors, it is not enough just to bring those affected out into the fresh air. Those affected must be ventilated with oxygen immediately. In this way, the poisoning process can be interrupted and reversed.

In carbon monoxide poisoning, vital oxygen transport through hemoglobin is blocked. If it stays that way, the chances of survival are slim. Heart and brain are damaged by carbon monoxide poisoning. On average, 10 percent of all people who suffer accidental carbon monoxide poisoning die. The remaining 90 percent of those affected could be discharged after clinical treatment.


Carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented with a few safety measures. Since the most common cause is defective incinerators in rooms, a specialist should carry out regular maintenance here. Measurements of the MAK values ​​(maximum workplace concentration) in the company give early warning of imminent danger.

In some professions (road construction, fire brigade) permanent exposure cannot be avoided. Respiratory masks should be worn here if necessary. Otherwise, it is advisable to avoid places with a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.


In most cases, those affected by carbon monoxide poisoning do not have any special aftercare options. First and foremost, the cause of this poisoning must be clarified so that it cannot occur again. The further course depends very much on the severity of the carbon monoxide poisoning, so that no general prediction can be made.

Typically, carbon monoxide poisoning is relieved by breathing oxygen, which can be done in a hospital or by an ambulance. In severe cases, a longer stay in a hospital is necessary to relieve the symptoms of this poisoning. The person concerned should take it easy and not exert himself. Physical or stressful activities should definitely be avoided.

Some sufferers also need a psychological evaluation and counseling because of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is especially true if it was a suicide attempt. Intensive and loving conversations with the parents or with relatives and friends also have a positive effect on the further course. In many cases, carbon monoxide poisoning reduces the life expectancy of the sufferer.

You can do that yourself

First and foremost, the person suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning must be brought to safety and removed from the poisoned room. A direct supply of oxygen or, in an emergency, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation can prevent further complications or, in the worst case, the death of the patient. However, an ambulance should always be called in the event of carbon monoxide poisoning. This can take care of those affected and make them more stable. A short stay in the hospital is usually necessary.

The acidification of the blood with carbon dioxide must also be controlled and possibly avoided. In some cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can also cause long-term damage, so patients depend on the help of their friends and family.

If the carbon monoxide poisoning occurs as a result of a suicide attempt, the person concerned must undergo psychological treatment. A stay in a closed clinic may also be necessary. The help of family and friends is also very important for psychological problems and can lead to accelerated healing. In an acute emergency, the patient must also be calmed down and placed in a stable position until the emergency doctor arrives.

carbon monoxide poisoning