Smoke inhalation

Smoke inhalation

Fact Checked

Smoke inhalation is one of the main cause of fire-related deaths. This occurs if an individual inhale the products of combustion during a fire. It is important to note that combustion involves the rapid breakdown of substances by heat, resulting to smoke which is a combination of heated gases and particles.

What are the indications?

There are various symptoms of smoke inhalation that might arise such as:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Noisy breathing or hoarseness
  • Red and irritated eyes
  • Changes in the color from pale to bluish or even cherry red
  • Presence of soot in the nostrils or throat might provide a hint on the degree of smoke inhalation
  • Headache
  • Changes in the mental status such as confusion, seizures, fainting and coma.

First aid for smoke inhalation

Smoke inhalation
If needed, CPR must be started by trained bystanders until the emergency team arrives.

The individual suspected with smoke inhalation must be moved away from the scene to an area with fresh air.

Before attempting to help, make sure that you are not putting yourself in danger. If there is a serious risk in helping a victim, wait for the professionals to arrive.

If needed, CPR must be started by trained bystanders until the emergency team arrives.


Various treatment options are available for smoke inhalation.

  • Oxygen – this is the mainstay of treatment that is applied via a nasal tube, mask or tube down the throat.
  • Bronchoscopy – this is a procedure that involves using a small scope to directly view the damage in the airways as well as allow suctioning of secretions and debris.
  • Hyperbaric oxygenation – if carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, this treatment option is considered. The individual is given oxygen while inside a compression chamber.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on smoke inhalation is for learning purposes only. Learn to properly manage this condition by taking a standard first aid course with Red Deer First Aid.

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