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Lung & Respiratory Disorders / COPD Message Board

Lung & Respiratory Disorders / COPD Board Index

I have no clue where to post this, so I will start here. I had an incident happen in a local ER and ended up leaving more injured than when I went in... I have some very unusual health problems (as documented by Mayo Clinic and other health providers) and I went into an ER the other night so weak that I could not move or even speak. I have had this happen before an I am basically in a comatose state - fully conscious but unable to respond.

The ER doctor decided, without even doing a neurological exam, that I had an anxiety disorder and that I really COULD move if I wanted to. Basically, she said I was faking it. My husband was very upset with this diagnosis and told them he was going to take me to another ER. They then gave him discharge papers and had him leave the room to go check me out.

The doctor and nurse then proceeded to yell at me, insisting that I get up and move, because they "knew I could". The doctor did a rough and long sternal rub on me, coming very close to an implanted medical device that I have in my chest (chest is bruised). I was physically unable to respond to this, due to my weakened state, although I was conscious and aware of what was going on. She then proceeded to take a smelling salt capsule, put it in her hand, cup her hand and cover both my nose and mouth, causing me to inhale the ammonia fumes and not letting any escape. She held it there for about a minute and I was not physically able to respond, again. The nurse then proceeded to do the same thing - causing me to inhale noxious ammonia vapors while I was physically unable to turn my head and get away from them. I remember wondering at the time what the ammonia fumes might be doing to my respiratory system.

I won't go into the rest of the details of the visit, as my main question is this: How harmful could those ammonia vapors be to my airways, when inhaled in this manner? I saw my GP the next day and he was very concerned, as I do have reactive airways issues (diagnosed by Mayo) and was already coughing and having chest pain later that evening, after the incident. I tried to contact my pulmonologist today, but was not able to talk to him (Friday - now faced with the weekend). My throat is getting more sore and my chest tighter as time goes on. The cough that I developed the night after this happened seems deeper and "wetter" today than yesterday (this happened Wednesday evening).

It seems very silly to actually become sick when exposed to smelling salts, but the fumes were very strong and I was physically unable to turn away from them - and it was done twice. IS it possible to suffer pulmonary burns from the ammonia in smelling salts, when administered like that?


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