carbon dioxide poisoning

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carbon dioxide poisoning

Poisoning caused by inhalation of carbon dioxide (CO2). In small quantities (up to about 5%) in inspired air, CO2 stimulates respiration in humans; in greater quantities it produces an uncomfortable degree of mental activity with confusion. Although not toxic in low concentrations, CO2 can cause death by suffocation. Poisoning is rarely fatal unless exposure occurs in a closed space.


Symptoms include a sensation of pressure in the head, ringing in the ears, an acid taste in the mouth, and a slight burning in the nose. With massive exposures to very concentrated CO2, respiratory depression and coma may occur.


The patient should be removed to fresh air and given oxygen and, if needed, ventilatory assistance.

See also: poisoning
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
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