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Smoke Inhalation

Smoke Inhalation is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Suspect smoke inhalation in anyone involved in a fire within a closed space or with a history of loss of consciousness.
  • May cause direct injury to the upper (supraglottic) airway structures
  • May cause chemical/irritant effect to lower airway structures
  • May cause systemic toxicity from inhaled substances


  • Direct heat injury from heated gases/smoke:
    • Limited to supraglottic structures because of the heat-dissipating properties of the upper airway
  • Irritant effect from smoke components
  • Systemic toxicity from inhaled cellular toxins:
    • Carbon monoxide
    • Hydrogen cyanide

Inhalation of steam can be rapidly fatal:
  • Steam has ∼4,000 times the heat-carrying capacity of hot air.
  • Can rapidly cause obstructive glottic edema, thermally induced tracheitis, and hemorrhagic edema of the bronchial mucosa

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TY - ELEC T1 - Smoke Inhalation ID - 307453 ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307453/all/Smoke_Inhalation PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -