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Health Effects

General Symptoms

Figure 7: General symptoms during exposure, chronic group

Figure 7 - General symptoms during exposure, chronic group

Figure 7 overleaf shows the more general symptoms experienced by the chronic group during exposure. It shows clearly the wide range of ill effects experienced by sufferers during their exposure to CO. The most common symptoms, experienced by over 80% of the chronic group, were tiredness (89%), pains or cramps (88%), headaches (86%) and nausea/sickness (85%).

Over two thirds of the chronic group experienced the symptoms of dizziness (78%), loss of concentration (77%), appetite and digestive problems (77%), cardiac symptoms (74%), flu symptoms (71%) and difficulty breathing (71%). Pins and needles/cramps and problems with vision were experienced by 65% of the group. Memory loss was a problem for 62% of the chronic group, as were personality/emotional problems.

57% of the chronic group suffered from mouth/throat problems and 52% from clumsiness, while 55% of sufferers were unable to work or walk very far during the latter stages of exposure. 46% of the group reported a hallucinatory/"zombie" state and 45% suffered from depression. Panic attacks and trembling were both experienced by 40% of the group, and 35% suffered from hearing loss.

During exposure 47% of women aged between 16 and 60 experienced menstrual cycle or gynecological problems, and 29% of men experienced problems with impotence and/or swelling of the penis. Eight members of the group reported bronchitis/pneumonia and one was diagnosed as having Parkisonsism.

Figure 8 explores this same list of symptoms for the unconscious group. It shows the symptoms experienced by the unconscious group during the period of exposure prior to collapse. For ease of comparison with the chronic group, the symptoms are graphed in the same order as in Figure 7.

Again the general picture is of a wide range of symptoms, experienced by large numbers of the group during exposure to CO. A number of symptoms were more prevalent amongst the unconscious group than the chronic group. These symptoms included pins and needles/stiffness (experienced by 92% of unconscious group), visual problems (83%), memory loss (75%), inability to work (83%), depression (75%), mouth/throat infections (67%), hallucinations/zombie state (58%) and panic attacks (50%).

Figure 8: General symptoms during exposure, unconscious group

Figure 8

Figure 9 examines the extent to which the symptoms experienced during exposure have continued for the chronic group. The figure compares the prevalence of symptoms during exposure with the prevalence after exposure has ceased and shows that although there has been some improvement in the numbers suffering from most symptoms, significant numbers have continued to suffer ill health for long periods after the exposure to CO ceased. Thus over 60% of the chronic group continued to suffer from tiredness, pains, headaches, loss of concentration and memory loss.

In addition, over 40% of the chronic group continued to suffer from dizziness, appetite or digestive problems, flu symptoms, breathing difficulties, pins and needles/stiffness, emotional problems sleep disturbance, inability to work or walk far, and clumsiness.

Figure 9: General symptoms continuing, chronic group

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The large improvement in terms of numbers recovering were for the symptoms of nausea/sickness, appetite and digestive problems, flu, dizziness, hallucinations/ "zombie" state, headaches, mouth and throat infections and tiredness. More modest improvements in the numbers of sufferers were seen for breathing difficulties, pains and cramps, cardiac symptoms, vision problems, personality and emotional problems, hearing problems, and lack of concentration, sleep disturbance and panic attacks.

Little or no improvement was seen in the numbers unable to work, or who complained of clumsiness, pins and needles, depression, trembling and memory loss. Indeed, the latter showed a showed a small increase in the numbers suffering, which disguises a mix of improvement in memory for some and deterioration for others. (Thus 8% of the group fully recovered while 9% of the chronic group recognised memory loss as a problem only after the exposure ceased.)

The study investigated whether those suffering from continued symptoms had a previous medical history, for the symptoms of chest pain and breathing problems. 29 members of the chronic group reported continuing chest pains, and 36 reported no continuance. Three members of the group reported a previous history of heart problems and 17 had some family history. Chi square tests at the 5% and 2.5% levels of significance found continuing chest pain to be independent from both previous history and previous family history of heart problems.

A similar test on the independence of previous history of lung problems and continuing breathing difficulties found only a weak relationship. (Independence was rejected at the 5% level but accepted it at the 2.5% level.) Chi square tests also found family history and continued breathing problems to be independent.

Figure 10 shows the continuing position for the unconscious group. This was broadly similar to that of the chronic group, with improvements in the number of people suffering from all symptoms. For example, 91% of the unconscious suffered from tiredness during exposure, while only 75% of the group continued to regard tiredness as a problem at the time of the study. For each the other symptoms, the percentage point improvements were: nausea/sickness (42% points), dizziness (33% points), flu symptoms (33% points), headaches (25% points), pins and needles/cramps (25% points), vision problems (25% points), depression (25% points) and panic attacks (25% points).

Figure 10
Figure 10
: General symptoms continuing, unconscious group

The unconscious group showed modest improvements in trembling, tiredness/weakness, pains/cramps, appetite/digestion problems, breathing difficulties and mouth/throat problems (all 17% points). Small improvements were seen in the numbers suffering from lack of concentration, cardiac symptoms, memory loss, personality/emotional problems, sleep disturbance, inability to walk far or work and hearing problems (all 8% points). Finally, the numbers suffering from hallucination/"zombie" states and clumsiness actually increased after exposure ceased.


Figure 11

Figure 11: Types of pain for chronic group

Figure 11 explores the types of pain experienced by the chronic group. This shows that during the exposure and on a continuing basis significant numbers of people endured some form of pain.

During the exposure over 70% of the chronic group suffered from flu like aches, and over 60% suffered from chest pains. Over 50% also suffered pains in the neck and back and limbs, and over 40% from deep muscle pain, cramps in the arms and legs, shooting pains, joint pain and /or neuralgic pain.

Once the source of CO was removed, significant improvements in the number of people suffering could be seen for flu-like aches, chest pains and shooting pains. However those suffering from neck and back pain and deep muscle pain showed no improvement, and only modest improvements occurred for the other pain symptoms such as pains and cramps in arms and legs, joint and neuralgic pains.

Figure 12 shows that the incidence of pain amongst the unconscious group was even greater than amongst the chronic group. Thus over 70% of the unconscious group experienced flu like aches, neck, back and joint pain in the period of exposure prior to collapse. Although some recovered after the exposure ceased, over 50% of the group continued to suffer from pains in the neck, back, arms, legs, joints and experienced sharp shooting pains.

Figure 12
Figure 12: Types of pain for unconscious group

Some 14% of the chronic group have recovered fully, in that they did not suffer any continuing symptoms at the time of the study. In the absence of any systematic measurement of the extent of exposure, it is difficult to assess whether these people were relatively lightly exposed to CO. However an indicative measure might be whether or not they suffered from the three most common symptoms during the exposure, namely tiredness, pains and headaches. Around half of these nine respondents suffered from all three symptoms during exposure; the other half suffered from only two or fewer symptoms. For most of these respondents it was one to two years since the source of CO was removed, in one case it was 20 years.



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