Propane is a colorless and odorless flammable gas at ambient temperatures. It can be toxic when inhaled because it displaces the oxygen in your lungs and essentially prevents your lungs from breathing.

Symptoms of propane ingestion:

  • body as a whole       o fever       o weakness       o Convulsions       o pains in arms and legs       o numbness in arms and legs       o burning sensations  
  • respiratory (if inhaled into the lungs)       o cough       o slow and shallow breathing  
  • skin exposure       o irritation       o burns possible if prolonged contact occurred  
  • gastrointestinal       o nausea       o Vomiting       o diarrhea  
  • heart and blood vessels       o rapid heartbeat       o irregular heart rate  
  • nervous system       o unconsciousness       o nervousness       o dizziness

Symptoms of propane inhalation:

  • body as a whole:       o dizziness       o lightheadedness       o loss of consciousness

Home Treatment 
DO NOT INDUCE Vomiting! If the skin was exposed, wash the area. If the propane was swallowed, give the person water or milk. If the propane was inhaled, move the person to fresh air.

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Bring the propane container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room 

Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • administration of oxygen  
  • blood tests to determine severity of exposure

Expectations (prognosis) 

The prognosis depends on the amount of propane inhaled as well as the duration of exposure. For minimal or short exposures there may be temporary headaches or other mild nervous-system symptoms. For serious and prolonged exposures there can be permanent damage such as Stroke, coma, or even death.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Armen E. Martirosyan, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.