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inhaled acid fumes
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inhaled acid fumes

I work as a valeter for a local car dealer where 2 days ago i was asked to valet a car which had been subject to a car battery spill on the rear seat,there was a strong vinegar type smell through the car so the rear seat had a new foam and cover fitted as the orignal had been attacked by the acid and fell to bits.
the car had parked up and had been sat in the sun all day by the time i'd had the chance to start the valet and it can get very hot inside a car, i opened the door, jumped in and shut it, i was hit instantly by the hot acid fumes that hit me straight in the back of my throat. it was so strong i could taste it on my tongue. i got the key in the ignition as quick i could, opened all the windows and drove the car 200yards to my valet bay and got out.  within 15minutes i had started to get a dry mouth which soon lead to a sore throat which has gotten worse as it hurts when i swallow, i am also feeling tight chested but no breathing problems yet just a burning feeling.
Should i just ride it out, see my doctor after the weekend or do i need to go to a hospital tonight?

Tags: hospital
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hello,

Unfortunately, I am not able to provide specific medical advice to you regarding whether or not you should see your medical provider or go to do the emergency department.

That being said, it is likely that the vapors caused respiratory irritation and inflammation; this means that the mucous membranes of your nose, throat and upper airways (possibly lower airways) were affected. This type of exposure and resulting inflammation can result in respiratory symptoms: wheezing, shortness of breath, and pain upon deep inspiration. The inflammation and symptoms will likely peak in severity in the first 24 to 48 hours.

The vapors could have been comprised of residual acidic vapors from the spill or possibly, basic vapors from the cleaning products. Either way, the vapors could have contributed to the respiratory irritation that I described above.

Your medical provider or hospital could evaluate your current symptoms, perform a physical examination, perform any diagnostic testing that is indicated, reassure you and provide prognostic information (how long can you expect to have symptoms).

If you are having difficulty breathing, you should proceed to the emergency department.

~•~ Dr. Parks
This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this posting is for patients’ education only. As always, I encourage you to see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
2 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Hello,

As Dr. Park said correctly that acid fumes can likely cause all the symptoms of respiratory inflammation leading to shortness of breath, dry mouth and throat etc. However, you should keep an eye on your symptoms' progression. If there is not major exposure, your symptoms will likely subside in 48 hours. If you have continuous symptoms, it will be always best to consult a doctor.

Hope this helps.

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Philip D Parks, MD, MPH, MOccH, F...Blank
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