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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Smoke Inhalation

Smoke Inhalation Treatment continued...

If necessary, CPR should be initiated by trained bystanders until emergency medical help arrives.

Medical Treatment

A number of treatments may be given for smoke inhalation.


  • Oxygen

    • Oxygen is the mainstay of treatment.

    • Oxygen may be applied with a nose tube, mask, or through a tube down your throat.

    • If you have signs and symptoms of upper airway problems (hoarseness), you will most likely be intubated. The doctor places a tube down your throat to keep your airway from closing due to swelling.

    • If you have respiratory distress or mental status changes, you may also be intubated to let the staff help with your breathing, to suction off mucus, and keep you from breathing the contents of your stomach.

  • Bronchoscopy

    • Bronchoscopy is a procedure performed to directly look at the degree of damage done to the airways through a small scope and to allow suctioning of secretions and debris.

    • Usually bronchoscopy is done through an endotracheal tube after you receive adequate sedation and pain relievers.

    • Bronchoscopy may be necessary if you have growing respiratory failure, fail to demonstrate clinical improvement, or a segment of your lung remains collapsed.

  • Hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO)

    • If you have carbon monoxide poisoning, hyperbaric oxygenation may be considered.

    • Hyperbaric oxygenation is a treatment in which you are given oxygen in a compression chamber.

    • Some studies have demonstrated that hyperbaric oxygenation causes a reduction in symptoms of the nervous system, and if you have carbon monoxide poisoning, it can make your recovery quicker.

    • The indications for and availability of this treatment vary depending on the institution and the region in which you are hospitalized.

Next Steps


Once you leave the hospital, follow-up care is typically arranged. You should return immediately to the emergency department if you feel that your condition is worsening after discharge from the hospital.


  • Medications may be prescribed, such as various inhalers and pain medications.

  • You may notice shortness of breath with minimal exertion.

  • It may take time for your lungs to fully heal, and some people may have scarring and shortness of breath for the rest of their lives. Avoid triggering factors, such as cigarette smoke.

  • Persistent hoarseness of voice may occur in people who have sustained burn or smoke inhalation injuries or both. Early attention to these problems, many of which are treatable surgically or behaviorally or both, could lead to an improved voice.


Prevention is key when discussing smoke inhalation. Numerous prevention strategies can be employed to avoid exposure to smoke.


  • Smoke detectors should be placed in every room of the building occupied. This should ensure early detection of smoke to allow plenty of time for evacuation.

  • Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in locations at risk for carbon monoxide exposure (such as from malfunctioning furnaces).

  • Escape routes and plans for how to escape should be worked out prior to the onset of a fire and reviewed every so often.

  • Numbers for the police, fire department, and your local poison control center should be kept in a visible place in the event of an emergency. Find your poison control center now by checking the Web site of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

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