Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Toxic Inhalations Overview

What are toxic inhalations?
A person with a toxic inhalation has inhaled smoke or fumes, which damage the lungs or poison the body. Direct damage to the lungs by an inhaled chemical is called chemical pneumonia. Other toxic inhalations, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, cause damage after the toxic material is absorbed by the lung and enters the bloodstream. Carbon monoxide interferes with the body's ability to use oxygen when it enters the tissues from the bloodstream.

What are the symptoms of toxic inhalations?
Symptoms of toxic inhalations include difficulty breathing, wheezing, cough, headache, and vomiting. Additional symptoms of toxic inhalations may include chest pain, coughing blood, fever, cyanosis, fainting, confusion and seizure.

How does the doctor treat toxic inhalations?
The treatment for a toxic inhalation depends on the underlying cause. Treatment for a toxic inhalation may include oxygen therapy, respiratory therapy, intravenous fluids, and inhaled bronchodilator medications. Additional treatment for severe toxic inhalations includes hyperbaric therapy or mechanical ventilation, in order to support breathing.

Continue to Toxic Inhalations Symptoms

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Toxic Inhalations 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. do Pico GA. Toxic gas inhalation. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 1995 Mar;1(2):102-8. Review. [15786599]
  3. Dorevitch S, Forst L, Conroy L, Levy P. Toxic inhalation fatalities of US construction workers, 1990 to 1999. J Occup Environ Med. 2002 Jul;44(7):657-62. [12134529]
  4. Hauschild VD, Bratt GM. Prioritizing industrial chemical hazards. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2005 Jun 11-25;68(11-12):857-76. [1602018]
  5. Parimon T, Kanne JP, Pierson DJ. Acute inhalation injury with evidence of diffuse bronchiolitis following chlorine gas exposure at a swimming pool. Respir Care. 2004 Mar;49(3):291-4. [14982650]
  6. Prien T, Traber DL. Toxic smoke compounds and inhalation injury--a review. Burns Incl Therm Inj. 1988 Dec;14(6):451-60. Review. [2855039]
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