Respiratory effects of breathing poison ivy particulate
I am a 51 year old female in great health, taking no medication and without any troubling medical history. I used to smoke but quit in 2000. On Thursday of last week I inhaled the dust and particulate from a large hairy poison ivy vine that I pulled off of a fence. Since I inhaled that particulate I have suffered from difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, increasing pain in my jaws, tongue and teeth at periodic times, not all the time. These "events" have happened twice and have lasted about 30 minutes to 1-2 hours, my blood pressure and pulse rate increase, and toward the end of the "event" I develop a fever of at least 100-101 for 4-5 hours. The next day I am weakened but fine. I visited my Dr. yesterday thinking it was signs of a heart attack and had blood drawn and had a chest xray and Electrokardiagram. I am awaiting the results of these test, but had this event happen again last night. I mentioned inhaling the particulate from the poison ivy to my Dr. but he didn't seem to pay much attention to it. He also thought the "event" I had was not associated with a heart attack. So, that is why I would really appreciate knowing what you think. I might also mention that now I feel fine except for a slight ache in my lungs upon taking a deep breath. Thank you in advance for your answer.
That you have experienced difficulty breathing and shortness of breath is not surprising. The poison ivy could irritate your airways, causing either asthma or acute bronchitis. In addition, the "hairy" component may be an overgrowth of mold or fungus on the poison ivy that could also irritate your airways.
In one report ingestion of poison ivy (Rhus Toxicodendron) resulted in skin lesions, changes in white blood cells, and liver function abnormalities; described this as a toxic reaction. Fever was also described but no mention of the pain you have experienced. Nevertheless, what has been described suggests that your symptoms may be related to the ingestion of the poison ivy.
If your breathing or any other of your symptoms worsen, you may require high dose corticosteroids to quell this reaction. The trouble breathing is especially likely to be due to this inhalation as there have been many instances of what is called hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) due to the inhalation of organic materials.
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