Which physical findings are characteristic of cyanide smoke inhalation?

Updated: Oct 15, 2021
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Answer

CN stimulates nociceptors, leading to a sensation of burning and dryness in the throat and nose. Therefore, hoarseness, change in voice, complaints of throat pain, and/or odynophagia indicate an upper airway injury that may be severe. Tachypnea may be present. Wheezing, rales and rhonchi, and use of accessory respiratory muscles may be noted.

Low levels of CN increase cardiac output. At higher levels, a wide variety of bradyarrhythmias and tachyarrhythmias occurs. With progressively higher levels of exposure, obtundation, seizures, and apnea occur. In the most severe cases, death occurs immediately from respiratory arrest.


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