If you have ever experienced a sudden chill, heard unexplained noises, or seen ghostly figures in your home, you might have been exposed to carbon monoxide (CO), a deadly gas that can cause symptoms that resemble paranormal phenomena.
CO is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels such as wood, coal, gasoline, propane, and natural gas. It can leak from faulty appliances, fireplaces, furnaces, generators, or cars, and accumulate in poorly ventilated spaces.
CO poisoning happens when CO binds to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. CO has a much higher affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen, so it displaces oxygen and prevents it from reaching the tissues and cells that need it. This leads to hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, which can affect the heart and the central nervous system (CNS).
The symptoms of CO poisoning vary depending on the level and duration of exposure. Mild to moderate exposure can cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Severe exposure can cause irregular heartbeat, seizures, coma, and death.
Some of the symptoms of CO poisoning can also mimic those of a haunting experience. For example:
– Confusion and hallucinations can make people see or hear things that are not there. “People have reported hearing voices or seeing faces on their TV screen when it was off,” says Dr. Michael Menna, an emergency medicine physician and medical reviewer for Verywell Health.
– Dizziness and nausea can make people feel uneasy or sick. “People have reported feeling someone touching them at night or smelling rotten eggs,” says Dr. Menna.
– Headaches and chest pain can make people feel like they are being suffocated or choked. “People have reported feeling pressure on their chest or difficulty breathing,” says Dr. Menna.
– Hypoxia can impair judgment and memory, making people forget what happened or distort their perception of reality. “People have reported having memory loss or feeling depressed,” says Dr. Menna.
There have been several cases where CO poisoning was mistaken for a haunting. One of the most famous examples is the case of the H family in 1921. The family moved into a new house and soon began to experience strange phenomena.
They heard footsteps, bells ringing, furniture moving, and voices whispering. They felt cold drafts and electric shocks. They saw shadows and apparitions. They also suffered from headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and depression.
The family consulted a doctor, a priest, and a psychic, but none of them could explain or stop the haunting. Finally, they contacted William F. Barrett, a physicist and psychical researcher who investigated paranormal phenomena.
Barrett suspected that CO might be the culprit and tested the air in the house. He found high levels of CO leaking from a faulty furnace. He advised the family to fix the furnace and ventilate the house. After that, the haunting stopped.
Barrett wrote about his findings in a paper titled “A Record of Observations of Certain Phenomena of Trance” published in 1926. He concluded that “the symptoms observed were due to chronic carbon monoxide poisoning” and that “the hallucinations were probably induced by suggestion acting on minds rendered more than usually susceptible by illness.”
Another example is the case of Pauline C., a woman who lived alone in an apartment in New York City in 2005. She began to experience bizarre phenomena such as hearing voices, seeing faces on her TV screen when it was off, feeling someone touching her at night, and smelling rotten eggs. She also suffered from headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and memory loss.
She thought she was going crazy or being haunted by demons. She sought help from a psychiatrist and a priest, but they could not help her. She also called 911 several times but was dismissed as a prankster or a drug user.
One day, she collapsed on her floor and was found unconscious by her landlord. She was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with severe CO poisoning. The source of CO was a leaky gas pipe in her apartment building. She recovered after receiving oxygen therapy and moved out of her apartment.
She later wrote about her ordeal in an article titled “My Apartment Was Making Me Sick” published in 2007. She said that “I had been living with carbon monoxide poisoning for months” and that “I had been hallucinating, hearing voices, seeing things that weren’t there.”
These cases show how CO poisoning can cause haunting experiences that can be easily confused with paranormal phenomena. However, there are ways to prevent and detect CO poisoning before it becomes fatal.
The best way to prevent CO poisoning is to install CO detectors in your home and check them regularly. CO detectors are devices that measure the level of CO in the air and sound an alarm when it reaches dangerous levels.
You should also inspect your appliances and heating systems regularly for any signs of damage or malfunction that could cause CO leaks. You should also avoid using generators or charcoal grills indoors or near windows or doors.
If you suspect CO poisoning in yourself or others, you should immediately get out of the contaminated area and call 911 or seek medical attention. You should also report any suspected CO leaks to your landlord or utility company.
CO poisoning is a serious and potentially fatal condition that can cause haunting experiences that are not paranormal but physiological. By being aware of the symptoms and causes of CO poisoning and taking preventive measures to avoid it, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from this silent killer.