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Inhaled bleach. Getting headache and burning sensation in throat. Looking for relief

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 1991
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My throat has been hurting now for almost 4 weeks due to bleach inhalation,what can I do to relieve it I've had it swab for throat infection and came back negative nothing seems to help,I feel sick to my stomach sometimes headaches but mostly a burning sensation in my throat,my chest feels very tight also
Posted Sat, 9 Mar 2013 in Infections
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 50 minutes later

Thank you for your query.

1. Common household bleach contains mainly sodium hypochlorite. The fumes are irritant to the throat and lungs.

2. Commercially available cleaning solutions will usually not cause permanent throat or lung damage.

3. I am assuming that you were using a small quantity of bleach with adequate ventilation and did not ingest any. I am also assuming that there were no other contents or that you did not mix any other cleaning product with the bleach. Check the package / label again.

4. Usual treatment would have been to get some fresh air and avoid further exposure immediately.

5. Chemical irritation which ensues with inhalation of the fumes causes the throat, sinus and lungs to hurt. If you do not feel well, it will be prudent to get a physician to examine you. Supportive medication may be prescribed. depending upon the amount of exposure, recovery may take a few hours, days or a few weeks. Only throat burns or pneumonitis (chemical or secondary) can cause delayed healing. This is because of the highly alkaline pH of bleach, especially if ingested.

7. If you feel that you are worsening, get a Chest X-ray, auscultation, videolaryngoscopy and oximetry (blood oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration). Lung function tests may be done later.

8. Kindly let me know the results of your investigations. This will help decide medication and further treatment which may include anti-allergic medication, steroids and bronchial dilators.

I must emphasize that there is no long term damage expected with accidental (not deliberate) exposure to household bleach inhalation. After four weeks if all these tests are within normal limits, there is no cause for worry and the symptoms will subside soon.

I hope that I have answered your queries. If you have any further questions, I will be available to answer them.

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