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What are the effects of inhaling 36% HYDROCHLORIC ACID?

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About a month ago we had a 36% hydrocloric acid leak. A guy had it all over him from his head to his feet. He is still in the hospital from burns. My question is, I helped him for about ten minutes getting his clothes off while doing so I was puking and coughing the whole time.
My symptoms
1. Right side of nose is feeling weird, it feels like a giant booger is lodged in it. Plus it's still hard to breath out of it. When I put my finger in my nose I noticed that the Cartledge to the left is gone.
2. I also have a funny feeling in my throat when I swallow
3. My right side is painful to the touch
4. When I breathe in deep it hurts as well
5. I have also been wheezing too
6. I'm feeling tired all of the time
7. I also feel light headed

Category: ENT Specialist

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Category: ENT Specialist
 22 Doctors Online


Thank you for using Ask a Doctor Service from

I understand your concern.

Exposure to hydrochloric acid(HCl) gas can cause irritation of the throat and nasal cavity mucosa(lining tissue) leading to discomfort and pain. It can also cause breathing difficulty (due to mucosal irritation and tissue inflammation). Generalised malaise and tiredness can be due to the ongoing tissue inflammation.

However, most of these effects are immediate and they should improve after a month. As symptoms are persisting, you need examination to check for any persisting tissue injury.

You can visit your GP or a local ENT Doctor for examination of nose and throat. If required, he may do a nasal and laryngeal(throat) endoscopy. To rule out inflammation of sinuses(sinusitis) he may plan for CT scan of paranasal sinuses (CT PNS).

Exposure to HCl can cause airway obstruction leading to wheezing.

Wheezing can be confirmed by examination or pulmorany function test (PFT) and can be treated with nebulization or inhalers.

So with time, your symptoms will resolve but for now, you need to undergo examination by local doctor for treatment.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask if you have any further queries.

Thank you. 


Dr. Sunil Jalan,


Dr. Sunil Jalan
Category: ENT Specialist
DAA (Diploma in asthma and allergy) : Christian Medical College, Vellore, 2012
D.N.B (ENT), 2011
Residency - M.S. (Master post graduate degree in otorhinolaryngology),  Christian Medical College, Vellore, 2009
D.L.O. (Diploma in otorhinolaryngology) - Christian Medical College, Vellore, 2007
Medical School - M.B.B.S, S.P. Medical college, Bikaner, 2004
Dr. Sunil Jalan and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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