Skip to content

    Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Smoke Inhalation

    Next Steps

    Follow-up

    Once the person leaves the hospital, follow-up care is typically arranged. If the condition worsens doesn't improve the way it is expected to after discharge, the person should return immediately to the emergency department.

    Medications such as various inhalers and pain medications may be prescribed. There may still be shortness of breath with minimal exertion. It may take time for the lungs to fully heal, and some people may have scarring and shortness of breath for the rest of their lives. It's important to avoid triggering factors such as cigarette smoke.

    Persistent hoarseness 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, behaviorally or both, could lead to an improved voice.

    Prevention

    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 an occupied building. This should ensure early detection of smoke and allow time for evacuation.
    • Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in locations at risk for carbon monoxide exposure (such as from near furnaces or garages).
    • Escape routes and plans for how to escape should be worked out before there is a fire and reviewed periodically.
    • Numbers for the police, fire department, and the local poison control center should be kept in a visible place for an emergency. Find the poison control center now by checking the Web site of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

    Multimedia

    Media file 1: A smoke inhalation victim. Note the soot in the nostrils and the degree of swelling of the face. His voice was hoarse upon arrival. He had an endotracheal intubation performed (a tube was placed in his airway to help him breathe) because of concern of significant airway edema (swelling) and potential for airway obstruction.
    Smoke Inhalation Photo

    Media type: Photo

    Media file 2: State-of-the-art hyperbaric oxygen chamber by HyperTec.

    Smoke Inhalation Photo

    Media type: Photo

    Media file 3: State-of-the-art single person chamber by HyperTec.

    Smoke Inhalation Photo

    Media type: Photo

    WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

    Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on June 11, 2014
    1 | 2 | 3 | 4

    Today on WebMD

    man coughing
    You may not even know you have it.
    blood clot
    Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
     
    man coughing
    When a cold becomes bronchitis.
    human lungs
    Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.
     

    chest x-ray
    Slideshow
    Bronchitis Overview
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Copd Myth Fact Quiz
    QUIZ
    Energy Boosting Foods
    SLIDESHOW
     

    lungs
    Article
    smokestacks
    Article
     
    woman coughing
    Article
    Lung xray and caduceus
    Article