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Mild Smoke Inhalation

What is it?

Smoke inhalation (in-huh-la-shun) is when you breathe in smoke from a fire. Breathing in a large amount of smoke is dangerous. You can burn your throat and airways if you breathe in hot smoke. Sometimes smoke from a fire has poison gases in it. This can cause problems with your breathing.


Smoke inhalation is caused by breathing in a lot of smoke.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may need to cough a lot and have trouble breathing. The hair in your nose may be burned and you may have soot in your nose. What you cough up may have streaks of black or gray. You may be hoarse (have difficulty speaking). You may have an upset stomach and vomit (throw up). Finally you may feel sleepy, confused, and may have a headache.


Get out of the smoky area right away and into a place with fresh air. Take deep breaths of the fresh air and rest. If you have breathed in a lot of smoke you may need to be put in the hospital. Also, if your airways were burned you will need special care. Caregivers can give you extra oxygen and medicine to help heal your lungs and airways.

Do's and Don'ts:

Try the following to avoid problems with smoke inhalation and fires.

  • If you are in a smoky area again, get out as soon as possible and into fresh air.
    • To keep from breathing in smoke, crawl quickly beneath it on the floor to get out.
    • Do not return to the area of the fire until it has been put out and all the smoke is gone.
  • Do the following to prevent house fires.
    • Place working smoke detectors through out your house.
    • Make an escape plan in case of a fire in your home. Practice it often with your family.
    • Buy "flame-retardant" clothing for children.
    • Do not smoke or let others smoke in your house. Do not leave matches or lighters in the reach of children,
    • Being extra careful around Christmas trees, portable heaters, and open fires (also in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves).

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.