Inhalation Injuries – Symptoms & Treatment

Inhalation Injuries

Inhalation injuries are serious harm to your lungs and respiratory system. They may occur if you inhale harmful things such as chemicals, gases, particles of pollution, and smoke (from fires). Extreme heat can also result in thermal injuries, which include inhalation injuries. By asphyxiation (lack of oxygen), chemical irritation, chemical asphyxiation, or a combination of these, burning materials, chemicals, and the gases produced can result in smoke inhalation.

Symptoms of Inhalation Injuries

Depending on what you breathed in, inhalation injuries may have different symptoms. But they frequently include the following:

  • Phlegm and coughing
  • Uncomfortable throat
  • Congested sinuses
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Stiffness or discomfort in the chest
  • Headaches
  • Eye irritation
  • A runny nose

An inhalation injury can worsen whatever underlying heart or lung conditions you may already have.


In the medical facility, a doctor will inquire about:

  • Where the smoke came from that was breathed in
  • The duration of the exposure
  • How much smoke exposure the individual had

There may be a requirement for the following tests and practices:

Chest X-ray

There is a usage of an x-ray of the chest to look for indications of infection or lung damage.

Blood tests

Several blood tests serve to examine the chemistry and function of several organs that are susceptible to variations in oxygen levels. These tests also include a complete blood count and metabolic panel.

Also, there is a check for the red and white blood cell and platelet counts. To search for carbon monoxide poisoning in those who have breathed smoke, the levels of carboxyhemoglobin and methemoglobin are also measured.

Arterial blood gas (ABG)

This examination measures the blood’s chemistry, oxygen content, and carbon dioxide content. Blood is normally taken for an ABG from an artery in your wrist.

Pulse oximetry

To determine how well oxygen is reaching your tissues, a tiny device containing a sensor is put over a body part. This may be a finger, toe, or earlobe.


A small, illuminated tube is put into your mouth to observe the interior of your airway, look for damage, and, if necessary, take samples. You can receive medication to help you relax before the surgery. To assist clear the airway, debris, and secretions suction during bronchoscopy as part of the therapy for smoke inhalation.

Treatment for Inhalation Injuries


The most crucial component of treating smoke inhalation is oxygen. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, this gives to you through a mask. Also, a healthcare professional places a breathing tube in your throat.

Hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO)

To cure carbon monoxide poisoning, utilize HBO. High oxygen dosages will be administered to you while you are put in a compression chamber. In order to provide oxygen to your tissues while removing carbon monoxide from your blood, oxygen dissolves into the blood plasma.


Treat the symptoms of inhalation injuries with certain drugs. It is possible to provide bronchodilators to relax lung muscles and enlarge airways. It is possible to use antibiotics to treat or stop an illness. In the event of chemical poisoning, the doctor may prescribe further drugs.

At-home Treatment

Following inhalation injuries treatment, you can do the following things at home. You can do these in addition to taking your medications as directed and adhering to your doctor’s instructions:

  • Rest as much as you can.
  • To make it simpler to breathe as you sleep, lean back or elevate your head.
  • Avoid smoking and exposure to smoke
  • Avoid things like severely cold, hot, humid, or dry air that might irritate your lungs.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to any breathing techniques.


Even if there are no outward signs, inhalation necessitates emergency medical attention. Follow the recommendations of your healthcare practitioner regarding your medications and respiratory management plan if you have asthma, another lung condition, or heart disease. Use safety measures and protective gear when dealing with chemicals or gases. Early intervention can lessen the risk of mortality and other consequences.