Chemical Pneumonia

Chemical pneumonia is swelling and irritation of the lungs caused by breathing in fumes from such chemicals as bug sprays, pool cleaners, or gasoline. This kind of pneumonia cannot be spread to other people.



Inhaling any type of irritating fumes can result in this problem. You can also get pneumonia if you breathe in when vomiting.


Common symptoms include coughing, choking, gagging, trouble breathing, or fast breathing. You also might have bluish fingernails, toenails, or skin; a fast heartbeat; headache; fever or upset stomach; vomiting; diarrhea; and convulsions. Other possible symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, and difficulty walking.


If you are not having too much trouble breathing, you can recover at home. You may need medicine for pain, swelling, fever, or infection. If you need extra oxygen or medicines to help you breathe more easily, a hospital stay may be required.


  • Take any medicine the doctor prescribes exactly as directed. If you feel it is not helping, call your doctor. Do not quit taking it on your own.
  • For pain and fever, you may take over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer to increase air moisture. This will make it easier for you to breathe. Do not use hot steam.
  • Rest in bed until your temperature is normal (98.6 degrees F or 37 degrees C) and your chest pain and breathing problems are gone.
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of liquids (soda-can size) to keep mucus thin and easy to cough up.
  • If you have muscle pain from coughing, put a heating pad or warm wet cloth on the achy muscles. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a day to lessen the pain.
  • To keep your lungs free of infection, take deep breaths, then cough. Do this often during the day. If your chest hurts when you cough, hugging a pillow tightly while you cough may reduce the pain.
  • Do not smoke until you are better. Quit smoking if possible. It harms the heart and lungs. If you have trouble quitting, ask your doctor for help.
  • To keep from getting this type of pneumonia again:
    • Open a window when you use cleaning products, especially when you are in a small room.
    • Do not spray or use chemicals outside when it's windy.
    • If you must work in the wind, make sure the chemicals are blowing away from you instead of toward you. Also wear a mask over your mouth and nose, and wear clothing that protects your skin.

Call Your Doctor If...

  • You have a high temperature.
  • Your chest pain does not get better in a few days.
  • You get an upset stomach, start throwing up, or have diarrhea.
  • You are coughing up bloody sputum.
  • You have any problems that may be related to the medicine you are taking (for example, a rash, itching, swelling, or stomach pain).

Seek Care Immediately If...

  • You have a lot of trouble breathing or have dark or bluish fingernails, toenails, or skin.
  • You have a really bad headache, neck stiffness, or feel confused.
You continue to have a fever and chills and feel worse.

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