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In the United States, expert advice from a regional poison control center may be obtained by calling 1-800-222-1222. If cyanide poisoning is suspected, emergency medical personnel should be contacted immediately (dial 911).

 
Cyanide Poisoning vs Carbon Monoxide Poisoning | CYANIDE INSIGHT
Cyanide & carbon monoxide poisoning can be hard to distinguish. Learn ways to recognize features between CN and CO poisoning when assessing a potential victim.

Differentiating Between the Toxic Twins

The signs and symptoms of cyanide (CN) and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can be hard to distinguish. It is important to recognize the clinical features between CN and CO poisoning so that both can be treated appropriately. The table below may help you understand what to look for when assessing a potential victim.12

Chart of signs and symptoms of cyanide and carbon monoxide poisoning
Chart of signs and symptoms of cyanide and carbon monoxide poisoning

Similar symptoms, different dangers

Although CN and CO share similarities and are both present in fire smoke, there is evidence to suggest that CN may be a greater risk than its “toxic twin.”14

In Dallas County, Texas, a clinical study measured blood toxicity levels in 187 fire-smoke-inhalation patients over a 2-year period. Of the 144 patients who successfully made it to the emergency department, 12 had blood CN concentrations more than 1mg/L, and ultimately 8 of those 12 died. Furthermore, none of the deceased patients had blood COHb levels to suggest CO as a cause of death—leaving CN as the likely culprit for these fire smoke fatalities.14

Did you know?

Victims of CN poisoning have
also shown effects such as
deafness, weakness in the fingers
and toes, and impaired vision.1

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