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-coloured sputum.
  • A change in mental state, such as restlessness, confusion, or sleepiness (lethargy).

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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