Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Yesterday I breathed in baby powder that has talc in it and now I'm coughing. What should I do?"
johnson and johnson baby powder
Irritation of your airways from inhalation of a foreign substance can be common. Depending on your past medical history, the extent of the inhalation, and the substance, you may experience symptoms ranging from cough and wheezing to more severe shortness of breath that can cause respiratory compromise and potentially death. You should contact your doctor to describe your symptoms and undergo a physical examination. Depending on the amount of powder you breathed in, you may only be experiencing a cough as your respiratory tract attempts to clear the irritant from your airways. Excessive talc inhalation can cause a severe inflammatory reaction that can lead to a condition known as pneumonitis (inflammation of your lungs). You may also develop pneumonia or infection of your lung. Continued inflammation of your lungs can develop into pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which the damage to your lung causes scarring. It is not possible to receive a diagnosis without being evaluated by a physician. You should contact your doctor or your local healthcare center to undergo evaluation of your symptoms and discuss potential diagnoses and management plans. Depending on the extent of involvement, you may undergo a chest x-ray to better evaluate your lungs or perhaps even bronchoscopy (a procedure in which a fiberoptic video camera is used to evaluate the lining of your airways). However, in minor cases, a physical examination may suffice. This can only be determined once you are seen by a doctor.
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