Hydrocarbon pneumonia is caused by drinking or breathing in gasoline, kerosene, furniture polish, paint thinner, or other oily materials or solvents. These products cause fairly rapid changes in the lungs, including inflammation, swelling, and bleeding.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Pneumonia - hydrocarbon
Signs and tests
The health care provider will check the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
The following tests may be done:
Those with mild symptoms may need to be seen by doctors in an emergency room, but may not require a hospital stay.
Persons with moderate and severe symptoms are normally admitted to the hospital, occasionally to an intensive care unit (ICU).
Hospital treatment may include:
Most children who drink or inhale hydrocarbon products and develop chemical pneumonitis recover fully following treatment. Highly toxic hydrocarbons may lead to rapid respiratory failure and death.
Calling your health care provider
If you know or suspect that your child has swallowed or inhaled a hydrocarbon product, take them to the emergency room immediately. DO NOT use ipecac to induce vomiting.
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
If you have young children, be sure to identify and store materials containing hydrocarbons carefully.
Marx J. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2006.
John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Samaritan Regional Health System, Ashland, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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