Lung problems after tearing up a floor?

jlc102482November 20, 2012

Has anyone else experienced lung problems after working on their old house? I tore up a small bathroom floor over a week ago and have been having trouble since. The floor was vinyl tile (each peeled off in one piece with very little effort) and two sheets of plywood underneath which were nailed to the original floor. The nails were too small to pull for the most part, so the plywood was literally torn up using a hammer claw and a mallet.

I did wear a dust mask, but I guess it wasn't enough. I went to the doctor the day after, as I was having trouble breathing and had burning chest pain. I was told my chest x-rays were "clear" and was prescribed Albuterol, but it's been over a week and I'm still short of breath and my chest hurts every time I inhale. It really sucks. My doctor simply told me it's "lung irritation" and couldn't elaborate further. Has this happened to anyone else and if so, how long did it take to recover?

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Well I sure ain't no doc but those rather match the late symptoms of Hanta Virus. Just a wild guess. Sure hope not.

Quite possible working on an old house. Hard to diagnose if the doc isn't familiar with it. Very dangerous - I wouldn't hesitate to ask. In fact I'd be in a big hurry to eliminate that possibility.

It takes about 3-4 weeks to develop so it might not have been the bathroom floor to fault. Read the link. Lettuce know.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hanta Virus

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 11:33AM
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Geez, the symptoms in that link sure sound like fun. Fortunately, I have very few of them and my x-ray was "clear" so no fluids in the lungs = no hanta virus! Thank heavens.

I'm guess I'm wondering if this delightful "lung irriration" I'm experiencing is something that other old house DIYers have also encountered in the course of their work, or if I'm just "special". If someone has had this problem, I'd love to know if they were able to pinpoint what substance/conditions caused it, and also when it cleared up for them. Because I saw no mold or mildew on the floors I tore up, I am really at a loss and am keen to avoid experiencing this problem in future home projects.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 11:56AM
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There are many years of dust in an old house.

If you wore a typecla 'nuisance' dust mask you watseed you money buying them.

Get a beetr mask.

Grainger has decent ones, ad all the rating tables ad onf you need.

Masks without exhale valves cannot stop very much before the moisture in your breath combined with the debris they are stopping clogs them.

Less tan two strap and no formable nose piece is also useless.

Decent ones are just under $10 each.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 1:17PM
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I know you're somewhat worried but try not to jump to bad news. Doctors tend to look for horses first, common things like asthma, bronchitis and common bacteria and viruses before turning to looking for zebras.

It's totally possible that you may have been exposed to a lung virus weeks earlier, which caused symptoms at the time of the bathroom work, hence the pain. Could you have broken a rib from exertion on pulling out the nails? That would cause inspiratory pain. Sometimes a fracture or other lung problem is seen on a second xray, not present on the first. Are you having any calf problems of your legs: swelling or pain. Positions during house work can temper our blood flow if we don't stretch them out and keep them moving. So they can be checked.

I'd suggest you go back to your doctor and have a followup visit since you still have the pain. Further study with an EKG, xray and or CT of lungs might be ordered. Second opinions often help-a pulmonary doctor specializes in lungs.If the pain persists and worsens, go to the ER as tests can be ordered directly.

Good luck to you. I'm sorry you are in pain. Please see your own doctors for medical attention.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 7:01PM
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Your med is a bronco-dilator. If it's not helping tell the doc. It will give him a clue which way to go from there.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 11:00PM
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The dust and old crud you kick up during house renovation can irritate your lungs. And it can last a week or two.

Drink plenty of fluids, rest, etc. It's possible that you strained a muscle or several in your rib cage with the strange contortions it takes to rip up floors. That would make it hard to breathe without pain.

Next time, wear a GOOD mask, not the crappy ones they sell for mowing lawns.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 6:36PM
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If you are going to be doing more work on an old house, with the hazard varying from dust to organic vapors from refinishing, you should get a good mask with interchangeable cartridges, such as the North Safety model 770030. The best way to buy it is in person at a shop that sells safety gear, so the staff can make sure you are getting the right size.

Here is a link that might be useful: North 7700 series half-face respirator

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 1:30PM
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"North Safety model 770030"

Complete and total overkill for the vast majority of 'old house' work.

A high quality disposable with an exhale valve, twin straps, and a formable nose piece is all you need.

The vast majority of safety gear and standards are written for occupational exposures of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
that is why OSHA (Occupation Safety and Health Administration) writes them, and they do NOT alply to individuals in their own homes.

There are a few VERY dangerous things you can work with, some that no mask is rated to stop (some auto paints come to mind that require positive pressure breathing gear for anyone using them).

Methylene chloride paint stripper is well know to be dangerous to anyone with compromised heart blood circulation (it acts like CO in the body and ties up the bloods ability to carry oxygen).

A half face mask is overkill for the vast majority of DIY type jobs unless you have a known sensitivity to something you are using like epoxy amine sensitivity).

Just plain old dust and dirt is irritating in high doses for many folks.

Your lungs will clear it out in a week or two.
If you have no other symptoms, tincture of time is likely the cure.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 2:23PM
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That was predictable.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 11:39PM
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