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Breathing Smoke or Fumes

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

It is common to cough for a few minutes after breathing in smoke or fumes from a fire. Your breathing should return to normal within a short period of time, about 30 minutes. If your breathing does not return to normal or if your breathing is getting worse instead of improving, it is important to think about whether you are having breathing difficulties because of smoke inhalation.

Smoke inhalation may occur in any fire. It is more likely to occur if you:

Symptoms of smoke inhalation include:

More serious smoke inhalation causes swelling (edema) in the air passages. This swelling can also hurt the vocal cords, making it hard for the person to talk. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious concern with smoke inhalation injuries.

If smoke inhalation causes serious symptoms, or if you have any high-risk conditions such as asthma or chronic lung disease, evaluation by a doctor is needed.


Credits for Breathing Smoke or Fumes

Current as of: September 20, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
R. Steven Tharratt MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology


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