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Monday, December 28, 2009

Flu, Carbon Monoxide Symptoms Often Confused

carbonThe flu season is in full swing and so is the winter season, but those sniffles and achy muscles don't necessarily indicate the onset of a flu or cold. It's easy to confuse symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning for a virus. The winter months increase the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning because that is when fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood and charcoal are burned to heat homes. Infants, the elderly, people with anemia or with a history of heart or respiratory disease are especially susceptible. It happened to one of April Cook's family members. "She thought it was the flu and it was not " said Cook, of west El Paso. "Her life was at risk."

"It scared her because when she went to the doctor and it came out that it was the carbon monoxide, it just made her wake up and realize the dangers."

Fire officials said flu and carbon monoxide poisoning have these symptoms: nausea, fatigue, headache or weakness.

Cook told KFOX her relative even took medicine for the flu.

"She had taken it, like, for a day or two and instead of getting better, she was getting worse and worse and worse," added Cook.

About 140 people across the country die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, also known as the silent killer. It's a tasteless, colorless and odorless poisonous gas.

"It is surprising because you can just get confused and not know which one it is," Nathan Duran of west El Paso said.

But experts said there are key signs to look out for: Victims of the carbon monoxide poisoning don't get a fever. Several people in the home get sick at the same time, whereas the flu is usually gradually passed on from person to person. Indoor pets may also get sick and even experience symptoms first.

"It's just something to open your eyes now that you hear about it," said Duran.

Falling victim to carbon monoxide poisoning can be as easy as warming up your car in the garage, using your oven to heat up your home or having a faulty furnace.

It's important to install a battery-operated CO alarm or CO alarms with battery backup in your home outside of each bedroom.




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