Essay on Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Every day, thousands of calls are generated to emergency medical systems to summons help for numerous reasons. One of the most frightening calls a dispatcher can receives are those involving a patient who is not breathing or is struggling to breathe. One very common problem that goes unseen due to its colorless, odorless and tasteless properties, and is a major worldwide public health problem, is poisoning from carbon monoxide (Graber et al 2007). According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2000 Americans die each year from accidental exposure to carbon monoxide and another 2,300 from intentional exposure (suicide). Carbon monoxide is naturally produced in our bodies in small amounts and …show more content…
A hemoglobin molecule has the ability to change shape once a carbon monoxide or an oxygen molecule has attached to one of the subunits on the hemoglobin causing other molecules of CO or O2 to bind more rapidly. Oxygen and carbon monoxide compete for the same binding sites on hemoglobin. When carbon monoxide enters the lungs and reaches the alveolar air, it diffuses across the membrane, attaching to the hemoglobin molecule at a much greater rate than oxygen does. A rate of around 240 times faster than oxygen. Gases, such as carbon monoxide, oxygen and carbon dioxide, all exert a pressure when dissolved in blood. Once a gas has attached to hemoglobin molecule, it no longer exerts this pressure. Only a small amount of oxygen is dissolved in the blood. The total oxygen carrying capacity that exerts this force is known as the partial pressure of oxygen. When the partial pressure is high, as in the lung, oxygen is force into the blood. Hemoglobin attaches to oxygen molecules to form a compound known as oxy-hemoglobin. As this compound reaches the tissues, the pressure is reduced, causing the hemoglobin to release the oxygen. Several factors can affect this process such as reduced body temperature and carbon monoxide poisoning. When more hemoglobin molecules carry more carbon monoxide than oxygen, the tissue will become hypoxic. Since a
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