Is it Flu or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

As winter approaches, thousands of adults and children will experience "flu-like" symptoms. But not all such cases are caused by the flu virus. Some victims actually have been unknowingly exposed to carbon monoxide (CO), which can result in serious injury or even death.

In fact, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be quite similar to flu symptoms, which can sometimes even mask a CO poisoning. The longer CO symptoms are overlooked, the more difficult it becomes to treat victims effectively.

The symptoms of CO generally progress as exposure increases. If exposure is prolonged, symptoms can become life-threatening, including increased heart rate, loss of consciousness, convulsions and seizures. Coma, brain damage and death can result if exposure is severe.

Carbon monoxide cannot be detected by human senses. The only safe way to detect it is to properly install CO alarms in the right locations in the home. Surprisingly, 75 million American homes do not have CO alarms. In addition to installing CO alarms, watch for these symptoms of CO poisoning:


  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision

MODERATE SYMPTOMS (in addition to minor symptoms)

  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Severe headache
  • Difficulty thinking

SEVERE SYMPTOMS (in addition to moderate symptoms)

  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Convulsions/seizure

As winter approaches and the chance of CO poisoning increases, make sure to ask the question "Is it flu or CO poisoning?" Don't wait until it's too late to install CO alarms. For more information, visit