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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.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Rest as directed:

Keep the head of your bed raised to help you breathe easier. You can also raise your head and shoulders up on pillows or rest in a reclining chair. If you feel short of breath, let caregivers know right away.


  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Bronchodilators open your airways and make it easier to breathe.
  • Steroids reduce inflammation in your airways.


  • Your vital signs will be closely monitored to follow your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. 
  • Pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.
  • Telemetry is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.


  • Blood tests will show if you have an infection, and how well your lungs are working. They may also be used to get information about your overall health.
  • Chest x-ray will show if you have fluid or an infection in your lungs.
  • A sputum sample is tested to find common sources of infection that can happen along with chemical pneumonitis. Mucus from your lungs is collected in a cup when you cough. You may need to give 3 samples of your sputum, usually first thing in the morning.
  • Lung function tests are done to show caregivers how well your lungs are working.
  • A bronchoscopy is a procedure to look inside your lungs to check for damage. A bronchoscope (thin tube with a light) is inserted into your mouth and moved down your throat to your lungs. Tissue and fluid may be collected from your airway or lungs and sent to a lab to be tested.


  • Oxygen may be given if the level of oxygen in your blood gets too low.
  • Deep breathing and coughing 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.
  • NPPV , or noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation, uses a machine to help fill your lungs with air. You will wear a mask or a mouthpiece.
  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.


You may need a machine to help you breathe if you cannot breathe well on your own. You may have permanent damage to your lungs. You have a higher risk of long-term problems if you work around a lot of dust, fumes, smoke, or chemicals. Your risk of long-term problems is also increased if you smoke. Chemical pneumonitis and other lung problems may become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 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.