Health: Shisha smoke leads to acute poisoning

Health: Shisha smoke leads to acute poisoning

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Clinic records more cases of carbon monoxide poisoning from hookahs

Shisha smoking is particularly popular with teenagers and young adults. But hookahs are not as harmless as they appear at first glance, warn doctors from the University Hospital Düsseldorf (UKD). Because the burning of hookah coal produces carbon monoxide (CO), which can lead to life-threatening poisoning. This year alone, 40 shisha consumers had to be treated in the UKD.

Hookahs are trendy

Smoking hookahs is the trend. Many adolescents prefer the shisha to normal cigarettes because they assume that it is the more harmless variant of tobacco use. However, experts repeatedly emphasize that there is an increased health risk from hookahs. This is now also confirmed by doctors at the University Hospital Düsseldorf (UKD) and warn of an increasing number of carbon monoxide poisonings from shishas.

Increasing number of CO poisonings

According to a report by the UKD this year alone, around 40 cases of CO poisoning from hookah smoking have been treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) in the special pressure chamber of the University Hospital Düsseldorf (UKD).

The highly toxic, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas arises from the burning of hookah coal. According to the information, especially if consumers smoke quickly in closed rooms without sufficient air supply without putting off the pipe, enough oxygen will not get into the organism. As a result, headache, fatigue, drowsiness, nausea, dizziness or even loss of consciousness occur.

Gas is often not noticed

These warning signs must be taken seriously. Because carbon monoxide is highly toxic and responsible for the majority of fatal poisonings worldwide. The gas inhibits the transport of oxygen in the blood, as a result of which the organs are no longer adequately supplied with oxygen. In the worst case, this leads to suffocation: "Carbon monoxide poisoning is life-threatening," emphasizes the head of the University Medical Center, Dr. Sven Dreyer. "More caution and care can save lives," says the doctor.

Despite the dangers, the gas is still often underestimated. The problem: It hardly causes irritation and is therefore often not noticed. As a result, the early signs of poisoning would often not be associated with CO at all.

Open the window and leave the room

If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, you should immediately open all windows, leave the room and call the fire brigade. According to the doctors at the UKD, only a few breaths would suffice to poison themselves.

Treatment in the pressure chamber

If hookah smokers were exposed to high doses of the toxic gas, they must be treated in a special pressure chamber with the so-called hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO). The person affected is given 100 percent oxygen by positive pressure to displace the CO from the red blood pigment and vital organ tissues, such as the brain. How long the patient has to stay in the pressure chamber depends on the amount of gas inhaled.

Risk from defective gas heaters

In addition to smoking shisha, there are also risk points for CO poisoning in your own household, warn the UKD experts. An example are gas heaters that do not burn completely, e.g. because the burner is sooty. An important distinguishing feature of escaping carbon monoxide is the color of the flame, which in this case is no longer blue but yellow.

It is also important not to set up a charcoal grill or open fire in closed rooms. "When burning carbon, namely charcoal, the gas is generated and cannot escape in closed rooms," explains Dr. Joachim Windolf, director of the clinic for hand and trauma surgery at the UKD, who also looks after the Düsseldorf pressure chamber.

Never set up the grill in closed rooms

As the UKD reports, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) based on tests from 2013 assume that after just two hours of burning 800 grams of charcoal in the garage or living room, a gas concentration (3,000 ppm / parts per million ) that was so toxic that it could lead to unconsciousness and death.

Carbon monoxide alarms can save lives

To protect yourself from CO poisoning, experts recommend purchasing carbon monoxide alarms. These are available in any hardware store and are simply mounted on the wall. Attention: Smoke detectors, which are now mandatory nationwide, cannot detect the gas and therefore do not replace a CO detector. (No)

Author and source information

Video: CNNs Amir Daftari on the dangers of Shisha smoking (August 2022).