Sunday, December 4, 2011

New on HyperbaricLink: Hyperbaric Oxygen for Smoke Inhalation

Today we have added smoke inhalation to our Diseases and Conditions section. Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death related to fire. During structure fires, especially, the combustion of plastics, textiles, and other synthetic materials produces a highly toxic mix of cyanide and carbon monoxide. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is indicated for the emergency treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning complicated by cyanide poisoning after smoke inhalation.

HBOT gives the emergency physician a powerful option for treating smoke inhalation. But ready access to properly equipped and competently staffed hyperbaric treatment centers is spotty, at best. From our commentary:

The emergency treatment of smoke inhalation offers perhaps the single best reason for the healthcare community to demand 24/7 access to hyperbaric chambers across the US. Cyanide, carbon monoxide, inhaled particulates, and thermal injuries together require speedy action to save the lives of firefighters and other fire victims. Ongoing surveillance projects and prospective trials may bolster the clinical case for HBOT in the routine treatment of smoke inhalation.

We urge swift and concerted political action, as well, and will ramp up our support of the hyperbaric and emergency medical communities in the months and years ahead.

Our new page includes more carefully selected links to trustworthy patient and clinical resources. We also recommend the excellent Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean.

[Photo: A Firefighters Own Worst Enemy blog]

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