Respiratory Therapist/fuel inhalation

Advertisement


Question
I was exposed to high amounts of kerosene, diesel, and motor oil that was in the ground from an old fuel station that I was working on a water main. I was in a hole with no ventilation for about 4 hrs. I must of lost my sense in the first few minutes. I became very ill and finally went to the Dr. after 4 days. Their prognosis was lucky to be alive my heart rate was 38 bpm . They said I was stoned and it would take time to get out of system. This happened about 2 years ago.  I have had health issues now involving drunken feeling / short term memory loss / confusion /  and breathing problems and any fuel smells or voc fumes make me sick immediately. I have also been inadvertently exposed a few other times also  to other fuel fumes in the ground  thank you

Answer
Hi Tony,

You gave a little background on your situation but did not actually ask a question so I am not sure exactly what you want know, or the full extent of your exposure and problems, so I will just give you some general information covering what you have mentioned.

From your background information it sounds like you suffered from an acute exposure to the fumes in the hole and are now experiencing some recurrent health problems. Exposure to diesel fumes can certainly cause central nervous system and respiratory system disturbances that have the potential for both short and long term effects depending on exposure concentration, time exposed, health of the person exposed, smoking status, previous exposure, genetics, and other factors. If you have a job where you have. or had chronic exposure prior to the incident, this would be likely to increase your chances of long term adverse effects too. Also, a person can become sensitized to some chemicals, in some cases, so that effects may recur or worsen on re-exposure. even at low levels of the substance. The fact that you get sick when you smell these and similar fumes now is a good indicator that you should limit your exposure to these substances as much as possible. And, you should never be in an enclosed area, or area with poor ventilation without respiratory protection especially when dangerous fumes are present. When it comes to occupational exposure that is the law.  Four days is much too long to wait to get medical attention, if anything like this ever happens again please do not hesitate to get medical attention or you could be seriously harmed or die.


I do not have enough information about your respiratory symptoms  and how they relate to your other symptoms and the times you get sick from the fumes, etc, to address this specifically for your situation.  But I do believe that if you have not seen a doctor about this you  need to take these symptoms seriously and see about getting a thorough work-up by a good internist,who can get a full medical history on you and take into consideration your exposure and all of the facts about the problems you are currently having in order to determine the nature and extent of the situation and what can be done about it. If necessary the internist will refer you to a neurologist, pulmonologist, cardiologist or other specialist for further evaluation.

Meanwhile, it is important that you limit your exposure as much as possible to substances that you have found make you sick as well as others that can cause respiratory and central nervous system problems such as paints and solvents. And you should try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and environment as you can. Keep your home free of dusts and artificial air fresheners, chemical odors, and smoke of any kind, etc.

If I have not answered the question you meant to ask please send a little more information and ask the specific question you would like answered.

Good luck and hank you for taking a proactive interest in learning more about your health.

Respiratory Therapist

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Stephanie Tyrrell

Expertise

Respiratory Therapy is a very diverse field encompassing many specialty areas. I have experience in many of these areas and I am willing to answer any question I feel competent to answer within the scope of my experience in the following areas: neonatal ICU and transport, pulmonary rehabilitation, sleep studies, BiPAP/CPAP therapy, Holter monitoring, EKG, ventilator management, chronic and acute respiratory diseases,(i.e. COPD, asthma, restrictive disease, ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), pneumonia, etc) and therapeutics, arterial blood gases, and others. Please see my profile under Experience for a full listing of areas of experience.

Experience

I have worked in respiratory therapy for over 25 years in all facets of patient care including level 4 neonatal ICU and neonatal transport, Director of Cardiopulmonary, community health fairs and networking, staff therapist, pulmonary rehabilitation, sleep studies and BiPAP/CPAP therapy, Holter monitoring, EKG, cardiac clinics, pre and post cardiac surgery education and patient care, emergency and long-term ventilator management, chronic diseases such as COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis; acute respiratory distress syndrome, emergency room, home and nursing home respiratory care. I also provided temporary staff to area hospitals through an allied health business I owned and managed, while also working as a staff therapist for the business.

Education/Credentials
Certified Respiratory Therapist, Registered Respiratory Therapist, Licensed RT, NRP ((Neonatal Resuscitation Program) certified, BS Biology/Botany, MS Environmental Sciences - Toxicology

Past/Present Clients
Thousands of in-patient and out-patient clients in the hospitals I was/am employed by as well as a number of local hospitals that utilized the services of my allied health business. I currently work as a respiratory therapist at a general hospital and a rehabilitation hospital.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.