The side effects of inhaling ammonia include irritation of the respiratory system, coughing, and burning of the nose, according to New York State's Department of Health. Ammonia causes the nose to become used to its odor, resulting in the individual's reduced awareness of its presence.
Ammonia may also cause burning in the trachea and nasopharynx, which is located behind the nose and above the rear part of the throat, states the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. Although ammonia is a clear, colorless gas at room temperature, ammonia has a distinct odor that allows people time to realize their exposure to the substance. However, ammonia also causes olfactory fatigue, a condition in which a person is no longer able to discern the presence of a substance by smell. As a result, inhalation of ammonia may be fatal, and asphyxiation can occur in high concentrations of the substance in an enclosed area.
Fumes from liquefied ammonia are heavier than air, according to New York State's Department of Health. Its initial density allows the vapors to stay closer to the ground, posing increased significant health risks for children. The side effects that result from inhaling ammonia are treated with humidified oxygen and the use of bronchodilators.