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What are the signs of fume inhalation?

 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine
Signs and symptoms of injury from inhaling fumes can be sudden or delayed. In a fire, victims are often overcome by smoke inhalation before the flames reach them. In other situations, damage to the lungs may not be evident for 36 hours after exposure. Children and elderly are most vulnerable. Dangerous fumes arise from car exhaust, cleaning solvents and other everyday chemicals. The type of fume and the duration of exposure will determine the extent of the damage.

The following signs and symptoms indicate fume inhalation:
  • Burns around mouth or neck - Soot in nostrils or phlegm
  • Singed hairs around nose
  • Hoarse voice or no voice at all
  • Wheezing
  • Drooling or dribbling
  • Noisy breathing, gasping for breath
  • Burning sensation on inhaling
  • Confusion, disorientation

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.