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Smoke Inhalation

Smoke inhalation occurs when a person breathes in hot air, smoke, or chemical fumes, which can cause burns or swelling in the air passages. Life-threatening carbon monoxide poisoning can occur with smoke inhalation.

The person may be restless, confused, or violent from the smoke and toxic gases inhaled. A changed mental state may be a direct effect of the toxins or may be caused by a lack of oxygen (hypoxia).

Urgent medical attention is needed for someone with symptoms of smoke inhalation. These symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Noisy breathing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Hoarseness, trouble speaking, or inability to speak in full sentences.
  • Coughing.
  • Dark-colored sputum.
  • A change in mental state, such as restlessness, confusion, or sleepiness (lethargy).

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as of December 27, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.