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

Last Revised: December 27, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.