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The Effects of Smoke Inhalation Are Serious

Fire is a serious event that can often cause death. However, when people die due to fire, avoiding the actual flames to avoid getting burned is less of a problem than smoke inhalation.

The effects of smoke inhalation are significant. Smoke contains gasses and heated particles, and smoke inhalation occurs when a person inhales these dangerous and toxic chemicals. Up to at least 80 percent of the deaths related to fire are caused by smoke inhalation. This is due to lack of oxygen, chemical irritation with products contained in smoke such as sulfur dioxide and ammonia, as well as chemical asphyxiation or compounds that interfere with oxygen in the body.

For the people who survive breathing in the chemicals, the effects of smoke inhalation are many:

1. Cough and Shortness of Breath

A severe cough is one of the common symptoms of smoke inhalation. The mucus that develops from the cough may be clear, or it may be black depending on the residue in the lungs. In addition to shortness of breath, rapid breathing and hoarseness can occur.

2. Changes in Skin and Eyes

It is also common for the eyes to become irritated and red from smoke inhalation. In addition, the corneas may be burned. Also, the skin can become pink or red and severely irritated.

3. Headaches and Mental Issues

When a person is exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning due to the inhalation of smoke, headaches can occur as well as nausea, vomiting, and disturbances in mental status. There can be fainting, seizures, and coma.

A person who suffers from smoke inhalation is typically treated soon after escaping a fire or being rescued from a fire. The patient may be put on medication, such as an inhaler. After the patient is released, he or she is typically asked to return for a follow-up to ensure that the health is still improving.