Smoking hookahs can cause carbon monoxide poisoning

Though they’re often viewed as just cool and unusual, hookahs, exotic-looking water pipes that can be smoked at several restaurants and bars in Lexington and Louisville, can cause carbon-monoxide poisoning.

That was the case with a young man who was brought to Jewish Hospital in Louisville last fall after passing out, reports Joseph Lord of The Courier-Journal. His symptoms indicated carbon monoxide poisoning, but doctors were confused by its source. After more research, they determined it was from a hookah. His monoxide level was tested at about 29 percent. A cigarette smoker can have a level of about 5 percent. (Photo of Amanda Steinhauer and Don Moore by Aaron Borton) “They’re the levels we’re used to seeing when you have furnace issues, house fires, car in the garage — the really significant carbon-monoxide poisonings,” said Henry Spiller, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Center.
The increased level is not entirely surprising, given that research shows the average cigarette smoker takes about 10 puffs per cigarette, while a hookah session might involve 100 puffs. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a one-hour hookah session involves the user inhaling 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke than would be inhaled from one cigarette.
Symptoms of carbon-monoxide poisoning include nausea and fatigue. Long-term health problems can include neurological damage. (Read more)
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