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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).