What are the long-term effects of smoke inhalation?

In any accident involving fire, smoke inhalation becomes a major risk. Smoke inhalation occurs because of oxygen deprivation. The burning materials, gases and other chemicals create simple asphyxiation, chemical asphyxiation, chemical irritation or a combination of any of them.

According to Healthline, smoke limits the amount of oxygen in the air.

Causes of permanent damage

Permanent damage is possible with smoke inhalation. Chemical asphyxiates or compounds produced by fires can lead to serious injuries. Without oxygen, cells die. If you have a lung or heart condition, these conditions may become worse after smoke inhalation. Patients with conditions such as asthma, emphysema, COPD and chronic bronchitis may suffer long-term problems.

Combustion may injure the mucous membranes in your respiratory tract. Your airways may swell or collapse.

Treatment for long-term damage

The prognosis for smoke inhalation depends on the source of the smoke, how much you breathed in and how long you breathed it in.

Initial smoke inhalation treatments may include the following:

  • Oxygen administration through a mask or tube
  • Medication to widen airways and relax the lung muscles
  • Time in a compression chamber with high doses of oxygen

After hospital admittance, your physician will instruct you to sleep in a reclined position, to avoid all irritants to your lungs and to carry out breathing exercises.

If you have scarring on your lungs, you may have permanent shortness of breath. You may also suffer from hoarseness. Some patients require medication to help them breathe due to extensive lung damage, whereas others may need to use an inhaler.

Smoke inhalation damage can range in severity, but with a proper diagnosis, your long-term effects may become clear.