Methane gas poisoning is more commonplace than you think. Excessive exposure to methane gas can lead to asphyxiation, and ultimately, death. Methane gas can invade your system through a number of ways, from inhalation to ingestion. Inhalation, however, is the most common incidence. Should a gas leak occur in an enclosed space without proper inhalation, the chances of methane gas poisoning significantly increase.
Even more dangerous is the methane gas by-product, carbon monoxide. Not only are its effects stronger than that of methane alone, but also it is odorless and tasteless, making it very hard to detect. In extremely high concentrations, carbon monoxide poisoning can kill within three minutes.
Methane gas poisoning occurs when abnormal amounts of methane enter your system. The methane will displace the oxygen in your body, causing asphyxiation. In the earlier stages, you may experience headaches and dizziness, as though you were being suffocated. This is because your brain is being deprived of the oxygen it needs to function. Should the concentration of methane increase to dangerous levels, your may begin to develop an irregularly rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. You may also start gasping for air. In the most severe cases, you may even begin to hallucinate. If you are exposed to this environment for a prolonged period of time, the lack of oxygen will cause you to lose consciousness, and if you aren't treated in time, you will most likely pass away from the asphyxiation.
The symptoms of methane gas poisoning, as you can see, are not to be taken lightly. You should be aware of any symptoms you may be experiencing and immediately seek treatment to avoid any possible damage done to your heart, lungs, or brain.
If you're experiencing the lighter symptoms of methane gas poisoning, such as headaches and dizziness, leave the area immediately and look for a wide-open space with fresh air. If you suspect there may be a leak in your building, open the windows to encourage proper ventilation before heading out. The fresh air should introduce an adequate amount of oxygen into your system and stave off the methane.
Alternatively, you could also take in oxygen via a nasal cannula, a tube that shoots oxygen into you through your nostrils. This is a more immediate oxygen fix and will be more effective than looking for fresh air in a highly polluted area.
Should someone around you lose consciousness from the poisoning, seek the help of a paramedic or other health professionals immediately. Bring the person outside and give him plenty of space. The paramedics will then blow pure oxygen into his body and offset the asphyxiation. In emergency cases, you can administer the same procedure as the paramedics if the proper equipment is available. You'll need to intubate 100% pure oxygen at a blower rate of 18-20. If everything goes right, the poisoned individual will eventually regain consciousness. Assist the individual to where he can get some fresh air and clear his head. Take him to the closest health care professional so that any damage to his system can be assessed.