Which physical findings are characteristic of carbon monoxide smoke inhalation?

Updated: Oct 15, 2021
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Altered vital signs in patients with CO toxicity may include tachycardia, hypertension or hypotension, and hypothermia or hyperthermia. Mild tachypnea may be present; rarely, patients with severe intoxication may have marked tachypnea. Noncardiogenic pulmonary edema may be present.

The skin may exhibit pallor; the classic sign of cherry-red skin occurs rarely and is generally a postmortem finding. Findings on ophthalmologic examination may show reveal bright red retinal veins, flame-shaped retinal hemorrhages, and papilledema.

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