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Chemical Pneumonitis


Chemical pneumonitis is inflammation in your lungs. It can happen after breathing in harmful chemicals, dusts, or fumes. Pneumonitis may become a long-term condition if it is not treated, or you are exposed to chemicals over a long period of time, . Chemical pneumonitis may cause problems that range from mild to severe, and may become life-threatening.



  • Medicines may help decrease coughing and inflammation, open airways, and make it easier for you to breathe. Medicines may be inhaled or taken as a pill.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your primary healthcare provider (PHP) if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your PHP or pulmonologist as directed:

You may need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Cough and deep breathe as directed:

This will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth, take a slow, deep breath, and then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Avoid smoke, dust, and fumes. These may irritate your lungs and make your symptoms worse.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids help keep your air passages moist and better able to get rid of germs and other irritants.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier to increase air moisture in your home. This may make it easier for you to breathe and help decrease your cough.
  • Do not drink alcohol when you are sick. Alcohol dulls your urge to cough and sneeze. Alcohol also causes your body to lose fluid. This can make the mucus in your lungs thicker and harder to cough up.
  • Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases your risk of lung infections and long-term breathing problems. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

Contact your PHP or pulmonologist if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your chest pain or breathing problems do not go away or get worse.
  • Your cough does not get better with treatment.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You vomit or have diarrhea.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You faint, feel like fainting, or cannot think clearly.
  • Your lips or fingernails turn blue or gray.
  • Your lips, tongue, or throat swell and you have trouble breathing or swallowing.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.