Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Smoke Inhalation Overview

What is smoke inhalation?
A person with smoke inhalation has inhaled poisonous gasses and soot from a fire. Smoke does not contain enough oxygen to meet the body's demand. In addition, many substances in smoke are toxic to the human body. Smoke can cause damage to the lungs and airways, or poisoning can occur if a chemical in the smoke is absorbed by the lungs. Smoke inhalation may account for 70 percent of fire-related deaths in the US.

What are the symptoms of smoke inhalation?
Symptoms of smoke inhalation may include difficulty breathing, wheezing, cough, chest pain, headache, vomiting, excessive sleepiness, confusion, fainting, coma, blue lips, or blue nailbeds.

How does the doctor treat smoke inhalation?
Treatment for smoke inhalation may include intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy, and bronchodilator medications. Treatment for severe smoke inhalation may require a ventilator to support breathing.

Continue to Smoke Inhalation Incidence

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Smoke Inhalation References
  1. Bakand S, Winder C, Khalil C, Hayes A. Toxicity assessment of industrial chemicals and airborne contaminants: transition from in vivo to in vitro test methods: a review. Inhal Toxicol. 2005 Dec 1;17(13):775-87. [16195213]
  2. Ballesteros MF, Jackson ML, Martin MW. Working toward the elimination of residential fire deaths: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Smoke Alarm Installation and Fire Safety Education (SAIFE) program. J Burn Care Rehabil. 2005 Sep-Oct;26(5):434-9. [16151290]
  3. Meshulam-Derazon S, Nachumovsky S, Ad-El D, Sulkes J, Hauben DJ. Prediction of morbidity and mortality on admission to a burn unit. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2006 Jul;118(1):116-20. [16816682]
  4. Prien T, Traber DL. Toxic smoke compounds and inhalation injury--a review. Burns Incl Therm Inj. 1988 Dec;14(6):451-60. Review. [2855039]
  5. Thompson JT, Molnar JA, Hines MH, Chang MC, Pranikoff T. Successful management of adult smoke inhalation with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. J Burn Care Rehabil. 2005 Jan-Feb;26(1):62-6. [15640737]
  6. Wright MJ, Murphy JT.Smoke inhalation enhances early alveolar leukocyte responsiveness to endotoxin. J Trauma. 2005 Jul;59(1):64-70. [16096540]
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