Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Caused by Hookah?

A young woman from Alpine is recovering after smoking hookah and ending up in the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.

She did not want to be identified, but her mother and boyfriend spoke to NBC 7.

Christine Miller said her daughter was out last weekend. She had been in a hookah lounge for about an hour and stayed for an additional hour when her boyfriend and his friends showed up.
When it was time to go, her boyfriend said there was clearly something wrong.

“I got in the driver’s seat and I just hear a thump and I get out and she’s on the ground,” Evan said. “I make sure she’s breathing, check her pulse and then feel the back of her head, and I feel a bump and then I check and there’s blood.”

His girlfriend was transported to the hospital. Medical documents show she had carbon monoxide poisoning, which her mother says is from the hookah lounge. Miller told NBC 7 her daughter had been home all day before going out.

When describing how serious the poisoning was, Miller said “[Doctors] told me the average smoker would be between two and four, and her’s was 22.”

Child Public Health Officer Dean Sidelinger, M.D., confirmed carbon monoxide poisoning can be caused by coal used to heat up the tobacco in a hookah, as well as whatever fuel is used to light it. He said the use of coal makes hookah unlike cigarettes and cigars. Since hookah a social activity, he said, smokers typically inhale more chemicals, including carcinogens and carbon monoxide.

“The volume of smoke that can be taken in from using hookah for an hour can be equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes and some of the chemicals in that pack of cigarettes,” Sidelinger told NBC 7.

According to Sidelinger, hookah smoking has gained popularity in the United States, including San Diego, over the past ten years. He said more needs to be done to educate the public about its potential dangers.

He said carbon monoxide poisoning linked to hookah is not tracked in San Diego County.

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