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Chemical Pneumonia

Chemical Pneumonia Facts

Chemical pneumonia is an unusual type of lung irritation. Pneumonia usually is caused by a bacteria or virus. In chemical pneumonia, inflammation of lung tissue is from poisons or toxins. Only a small percentage of pneumonias are caused by chemicals.

  • Many substances can cause chemical pneumonia, including liquids, gases, and small particles, such as dust or fumes, also called particulate matter. Some chemicals only harm the lungs; however, some toxic materials affect other organs in addition to the lungs and can result in serious organ damage or death.
  • Aspiration pneumonia is another form of chemical pneumonia. Aspiration means that you breathe oral secretions or stomach contents into your lungs. The inflammation comes from the toxic effects of stomach acid and enzymes on lung tissue. Bacteria from the stomach or mouth can also cause a bacterial pneumonia.
  • Chemical pneumonia is only one type of lung inflammation. Other types of lung infections are viral pneumonia and bacterial pneumonia.

Chemical Pneumonia Symptoms

Patient Comments

Signs and symptoms of chemical pneumonia vary greatly, and many factors can determine its seriousness. For instance, someone exposed to chlorine in a large outdoor pool may have only a cough and burning eyes. Someone else exposed to high levels of chlorine in a small room may die of respiratory failure.

Factors that determine the severity of signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Type and strength of chemical
  • Exposure environment: indoor, outdoor, heat, cold
  • Length of exposure: seconds, minutes, hours
  • Form of chemical: gas, vapor, particulate, liquid
  • Protective measures used to avoid exposure to chemicals
  • Prior medical condition
  • Age of the person

Chemical pneumonia may have the following signs and symptoms:

Chemical Pneumonia Symptoms

  • Burning of the nose, eyes, lips, mouth, and throat
  • Dry cough
  • Wet cough producing clear, yellow, or green mucus
  • Cough producing blood or frothy pink matter in saliva
  • Nausea or abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Painful breathing or pleuritis (an inflammation of the outside covering of the lungs)
  • Headache
  • Flu symptoms
  • Weakness or a general ill feeling
  • Delirium or disorientation

Chemical Pneumonia Signs a Doctor Might Observe

  • Rapid or shallow breaths
  • Rapid pulse
  • Oral, nasal, or skin burns
  • Pale or cyanotic skin and lips
  • Heavy sweating
  • Altered thinking and reasoning skills
  • Unconsciousness
  • Swelling of eyes or tongue
  • Hoarse or muffled voice
  • Chemical odors on other areas of the body
  • Frothy spit from a cough
  • Fever
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/4/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Chemical Pneumonia:

Pneumonia - Symptoms

Did you have chemical pneumonia? Please describe your symptoms.

Pneumonia: After Your Visit

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Most cases are caused by infections from bacteria or viruses.

Pneumonia may be mild or very severe. If it is caused by bacteria, you will be treated with antibiotics. It may take a few weeks to a few months to recover fully from pneumonia, depending on how sick you were and whether your overall health is good.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

SOURCE: HealthWise


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

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Pneumonia is characterized by inflammation of the alveoli and terminal airspaces in response to invasion by an infectious agent introduced into the lungs through hematogenous spread or inhalation.

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