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breathing problem and worried sick about soot exposure


Hi all, Please help. I am feeling really anxious and have had little sleep the last couple of nights.

I had ashma all my life but have had little problems apart from when I get colds.

I had a small house fire contained in one room but soot travelled through the house. I have a room with many delicate items and I needed to move and box them quickly. The cleaner from the insurance restoration company said it was low contamination in the room and was not wearing a mask and so ,long story short, I spent 3 hours wiping and boxing items without a mask. I don't know why I didn''t think! I am now experiencing tightness of the chest but my breathing seems ok. I have doubled my inhaler as my management plan and I checked my flowmeter and it is the same number as usual, so no change there. I am really worried that I have ruined my health with this stupid mistake. I can't find anything on the web that indicates how much soot/ length of exposure could cause long term problems. I am wondering if the tightness is actually anxiety?

I would be really grateful for any replies.

9 Replies

If there are no flecks of dark soot in your mucus then I would think you are okay and as you suspect, just anxiety, if there is, then get an emergency appointment with your doctor or go to A&E. One of the purposes of mucus is to trap any pollutants and bring it up, out from your lungs.

I do hope that you have not lost too many irreplaceable items like photos & memorabilia.

easyair in reply to 2greys

Thanks so much for your reply 2greys. I have not noticed any flecks in my mucous or any increased mucous production so this is indeed comforting. I guess my asthma may be irritated due to exposure to dust and hopefully this will settle down in a few days with increased inhaler doses as per management plan. Hopefully this means there is no long term harm done. I have read that exposure can lead to future sensitisation for asthmatics?

Unfortunately, I have had some treasured items damaged beyond repair but a health scare puts all that in to perspective and reminds me that possessions are not that important in life after all.

Thanks again for your reply, I am hoping for a better night's sleep tonight.

As a former ER nurse and asthma sufferer, I can tell you that there is often a late reaction to smoke/soot and could result in the type of compromised breathing that you're experiencing. I inhaled some smoke after our toaster over caught fire & many hours later had to go to the ER for extra inhalations of Ventolin under supervision. Not to alarm you, but maybe it's not a bad idea to consider this course of action.

Hi donewithasthma, thanks for your reply. I decided to seek help from 111 who refered me to a walk in centre. It was empty and I was in and out in no time. The doctor checked oxygen levels/ listened to my chest and did a peak flow and everything was clear and so thought it was probably a little irritation made worse by the anxiety? The doctor said he doubted there would be any long term harm done by the exposure given that it was low contamination and a short term exposure? I guess I am still anxious about this though. I have done so well with my asthma and this episode brings back memories of what it was like when it was much worse over 30 years ago.

Sorry to hear of this if there is not much soot in the mucus you should be OK. Go to GP for a thorough check up. If it has not affected you too much that would be good. Let's hope you manage to retrieve as much as possible. Good luck.


easyair in reply to donut43

Thanks Dan,

No mucous from the chest. There was a fleck of soot in one nostril after the night of the fire but that has been clear since. Hopefully this means I haven't ingested much?

Yes,i am pretty sure that what you’re feeling is just your anxiety, sometimes we worry to much, every little mistake that we make it seems like a big deal to our brain and that causes our body to start malfunctioning. Try to keep your self busy and don’t be afraid, nothing will happen to you, i’ve been there before and it does goes away ok?

I hope you’re already feeling much better i will be praying for you and everyone else on this site.

God loves you 🙏🏻🙏🏻

Thanks pacobusta 1970,

Yes, I am already feeling less anxious and hopefully the asthma symptoms will improve over the next few days.

4am and after 5 good hours of sleep I awoke with my mind racing. I am trying to focus on the fact that all the tests ( listen to chest/peak flow/ oxygen) the doctor did showed very good results however I woke to find my mind thinking of the bit of soot in one nostril after the fire and then dusting the objects. Would my chest be producing mucous to clear any soot? Is the fact that I don't have any mucous coming up (so can't check for soot) a good sign? Do you think there are other tests I should ask for or am I just letting the anxiety take over here?

Once again, I am really grateful for your replies, they really help me.

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