NMC Sees First Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Case Of Fall 2013

It's sad to say, but this is the time of year many fall ill to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Edwin Medberry came down with the first case of CO poisoning the Nebraska Medical Center has seen this year on Sunday evening. When working on a home, Medberry started to feel different.

"Dizzy, nauseated, weak," Medberry says.

The 63-year-old is doing fine now, but it took being surrounded by pure oxygen in a large tube-like machine to get back to normal. Doctors say pure oxygen is the best treatment for CO poisoning.

"By giving high pressure oxygen, we drive that carbon monoxide out and we deliver oxygen to the tissues that aren't getting enough oxygen," says Dr. Jeffrey Cooper, the director of Hyperbaric Medicine at the Nebraska Medical Center.

Carbon monoxide can cause delayed injury to the nerves, which sometimes won't show up for weeks. But high-pressure oxygen can decrease that chance by 50 percent.

Medberry knows he's lucky. While he was working, the carbon monoxide detector in the house went off. But this is when Medberry made a potentially deadly mistake.

"I shut it off," Medberry says. "I thought it was a smoke alarm. There was two alarms, apparently one was a smoke alarm and one was a carbon monoxide."

He's now gone through three two-hour sessions inside the hyperbaric oxygen unit over a 24-hour period. That's plenty of time to think about the accidental mistake.

"I didn't know carbon monoxide works so fast," Medberry says.

Doctors say prevention is the best solution and that we should never ignore CO detectors.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are dizziness, headaches, confusion, hallucinations and flu-like symptoms. A severe enough exposure can cause death.

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