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Propane Poisoning Symptoms

Know of any Propane Poisoning Symptoms? Propane can be quite a great option if you want a reliable and efficient energy source that you can install in any place on your property, but it does have several risks.

The biggest hazard of using propane as fuel is that it can be dangerous when used in confined spaces- high concentrations could displace oxygen in the air and make you suffocate.

The most worrying thing about propane poisoning is that it can be extremely difficult to detect because it’s heavier than air. Hence, a propane leak typically sinks and becomes concentrated at the ground level, where it can avoid detection.

In addition, propane is colorless and odorless. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the telltale propane poisoning symptoms – continued exposure to higher airborne concentrations could kill you within five minutes (or so), depending on the oxygen in the room.

Below we look at the most common propane poisoning symptoms to be on the lookout for if you suspect you (or someone you’re with) may have been exposed to severe concentrations of the gas:

Propane Poisoning Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of propane poisoning may include:

1. Rapid breathing

If you inhale large amounts of propane unknowingly, you may experience rapid breaths (hyperventilation) because the amount of oxygen available to breathe is reduced.

Remember that the average adult usually takes between 12 – 20 breaths per minute.

2. Rapid heart rate

It is sometimes normal for your heartbeat to rise. For instance, your heart rate will be quicker during exercise or when stressed (as a response to the tension). 

However, folks develop a fast heartbeat due to oxygen deprivation as a result of excessive buildup of propane in the room.

3. Sudden clumsiness

We can all become clumsy from now and then, but if you suddenly find yourself repeatedly lacking coordination in a room where propane is in use, it could be a danger sign.

Remember that coordination is a complex process involving organs such as the eyes and the brain along with various bones, muscles, and nerves.

Subsequently, the entire process is affected if any of the players is disrupted- for example, the brain owing to insufficient oxygen.

3. Feeling fatigued and weak

While other factors can make you feel tired or exhausted and need rest because of lacking energy or strength, it can be an indicator of propane poisoning. 

You see, the brain isn’t getting adequate oxygen if there’s a leak, yet your body cells require a sustained flow of oxygen into your lungs to function properly. 

4. Convulsions/coma

High propane concentrations eventually start harming the nervous system, and an individual may even go into a coma. Convulsions could happen to a particular part of your body or the whole body.

5. Hallucinations

Another sign that you could have extremely high propane concentrations indoors is hallucinating. Note that some feel euphoric (intensely excited) for no reason.

It’s worth mentioning that propane has shown a tendency to deposit in the brain tissues (liver and lungs).

6. Irritability (Emotional upsets)

Irritability is simply feeling agitated.

Now, in this case, you start to feel frustrated or upset since your brain is stressed because of a lack of adequate oxygen since the rising propane concentration in the air displaces oxygen.

Sure, it should not be relied upon solely as a sign – some of the previous symptoms of propane leak poisoning are more dependable- but feeling angry and unexplained mood changes can also be a useful pointer.

7. Nausea and vomiting

As decreased oxygen becomes available, the propane exhaust poisoning symptoms may worsen, and you may experience nausea and vomiting.

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Other propane poisoning symptoms

  1. Dizziness/drowsiness– You may also feel dizzy/drowsy/lightheaded. Others feel confused.
  2. Burning sensation in the mouth and throat- Abnormal levels of natural gas in the air sometimes trigger a burning sensation in your mouth and/or throat. Your eyes may also get watery.
  3. Headache- Extreme levels of propane exposure may also cause a throbbing headache. Some individuals also feel as if they have a fever.
  4. Pain/numbness in limbs- This may be a by-product of the respiratory difficulties caused by propane inhalation.
  5. Thirst –Abnormal levels of natural gas in the air are sometimes associated with feeling extraordinarily thirsty.

I must add that the longer one is exposed to propane concentrations beyond threshold exposure limits, the more acute these propane gas poisoning symptoms tend to become.

When to consult a doctor

While the propane poisoning symptoms and signs can be subtle, they can lead to life-threatening medical emergencies.

You should, therefore, move away from the exposure room (to open space for fresh air) immediately if you reckon that you have had a propane poisoning incident.

You must also seek emergency medical assistance immediately- Call 911 or the local emergency help number.

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Symptoms of propane poisoning in dogs

If you’re worried that your dog may have come in contact with propane when you were not watching him or that he may have inhaled the gas, look for these signs:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting and collapse
  • Irregular/rapid heartbeat
  • Wounds on the skin
  • Coughing
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Discolored spots on the skin
  • Gagging
  • Confusion
  • Unsteady motion
  • Salivation and twitching
  • Shaking his head
  • Reduced appetite

Saving your pet

If you feel your pet has been exposed to too much propane, call his veterinary (or pet poison helpline number 800-213-6680) promptly. In the meantime, move him from the exposure scene to a location where he can breathe fresh air.

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As with methane and butane, propane is not poisonous. However, research has shown that inhaling or ingesting high propane concentrations can cause long-term damage to your brain or make you disabled. It can even kill you by making you suffocate. 

That being the case, recognizing the poisoning symptoms highlighted in this article and acting fast could save someone’s life.

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