How Does Wildfire Smoke Affect Asthma
Wildfire smoke can cause asthma attacks for those who are susceptible to it. This is a particular problem for those who live in rural areas where there is no health care provider, or whose doctor is not knowledgeable of symptoms. Because of this, rural residents and others with respiratory illnesses are at risk. If you or someone you know is affected, there are things that you can do to protect yourself from the dangers of Wildfire smoke. This article will give you tips on protecting yourself from this harmful smoke.
First, know the signs the symptoms of asthma. These include wheezing, a heavy feeling in your chest, difficulty breathing, coughing, and chest pains. If you experience any of these, do not hesitate to seek help from your local health care provider. Wildfire smoke has been shown to increase the severity of respiratory illnesses. If you believe that you have any of these symptoms, you should visit your local health care provider immediately. They will be able to assess the severity of your condition and recommend treatment.
How does Wildfire smoke affect an asthma attack in children? Children who are affected by the smoke while they are inhaling are more likely to suffer from asthma attacks when they are unsupervised or when they are playing outdoors. However, studies have not proven any direct links between smoking and an asthma attack in children.
How Is Asthma Treated
Many people believe their asthma is being treated if they use their blue reliever inhaler as needed.
But relievers dont address the underlying airway inflammation, even though they relieve the symptoms. They should never be used as a daily medication for asthma.
Asthma treatment requires an anti-inflammatory medication, usually an inhaled corticosteroid taken regularly. These medications control the underlying inflammatory process and prevent symptoms and attacks.
Anti-inflammatory treatments are effective in maintaining asthma control day by day so that even with smoke and air pollution exposure, symptoms and attacks are less likely to occur.
People with asthma should have a written action plan which identifies symptoms that typically occur during asthma flare-ups and enables patients to increase their medications appropriately.
Finally, because asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition it requires monitoring and regular review. In these reviews, your doctor will check your lung function and ensure youre taking the right medication and that your action plan is up to date.
Forest Fires Smoke And Asthma: Not A Good Mix
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I LOVE summer – backyard parties, shorts and flip flops, not having to wake my daughter up for high school every morning….
But there’s one thing I REALLY hate – forest fires. Every summer, the news is full of stories about forest fires. I just turned on the national news and saw a story about forest fires in 3 different states.
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The Wests Growing Wildfire Challenge
Good health starts with clean airespecially for people who are affected by asthma. But in the western United States, wildfire smoke presents a growing health challenge.
During the summer of 2020, more than 10,000 lightning strikes over the course of just 72 hours caused hundreds of wildfires to erupt across California, burning hundreds of thousands of acres. The smoke from those fires spread across much of the western US, bringing with it eerie, post-apocalyptic orange skies and dangerous air quality.
Were you one of the millions of Americans who were impacted by smoky skies last year? At one point, the air quality in Northern Californiaspecifically Santa Cruz Countywas the worst it had been in 20 years.
An Associated Press analysis of government air quality data found that at least 38 million people in California, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho were exposed to unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke for at least five days during 2020. Additional research points to wildfire smoke as now accounting for up to half of all air pollution in the western US, up from 20% just one decade ago.
This isnt good news for those who experience respiratory challenges, including the roughly 25 million Americans who have asthma. Smoke is a common trigger for asthma attacks.
As 2021s wildfire season begins, learn how wildfire smoke impacts your healthand how you and your family can prepare.
Wood Smoke & Asthma Videos
During the wintertime, residential wood smoke is a main contributor to fine particle pollution and is responsible for poor air quality days in many areas across the United States. The following videos highlight the health effects related to PM exposure from residential wood smoke.
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The Danger That Exists
Consider the facts. The act of burning wood releases particles and other pollutants into the air you breathe. When this pollution is contained indoors, every time you inhale, you’re pulling the irritants into your sensitive airways. As a result, you may find yourself coughing and wheezing.
Further, the reaction can be so strong for some asthmatics that they may need emergency medical care to combat it. In fact, one expert from the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at the New Jersey Medical School even estimates that the number of emergency visits for asthma can quadruple when the first frost sets in and fireplace use kicks in. It’s also important to note that in some cases, the reaction caused by this indoor asthma trigger can be so severe they can be life threatening if not treated quickly enough.
This should prompt you to take some simple, yet all-important steps to protect yourself before you light up your fireplace next.
Does Wildfire Smoke Cause Allergy And Asthma Symptoms
Inhaling wildfire smoke has several short-term effects. The severity of these effects depends on whether or not you are at elevated risk. People at elevated risk include children, the elderly and anyone with a cardiopulmonary or respiratory illness, including asthma and allergies.
The immediate short-term effects, regardless of sensitivity, are burning eyes, nose and throat, watery eyes, runny nose, coughing and shortness of breath. Your body may produce extra phlegm in response to inhaling smoke. These symptoms are, in part, your body attempting to expel particles by washing them away. In addition, phlegm traps particles before they can reach your lungs. Even healthy adults may experience an inflammatory response of wheezing or restricted breathing.
People with asthma may have breathing difficulties in every day air. According to the EPA, the irritation caused by inhaling smoke can trigger asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath, constricted chest, wheezing, inability to draw deep breaths and chest pain.
If you are older or have a cardiopulmonary disease, asthma and allergies are the least of your worries when it comes to inhaling wildfire smoke. Particulate pollutants in smoke are known to cause an increase in heart attacks, strokes and blood clots .
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General Recommendations For Everyone To Avoid Forest Fire Smoke:
- Stay indoors.
- Keep doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut.
- Use air conditioners on the recirculation setting so outside air will not be moved inside.
- Avoid exercising outdoors.
- Take extra precaution with children, who are more susceptible to smoke because they breathe at a faster rate, and their lungs are still developing.
- Children, older adults, and anyone with a heart or lung disease, are;more susceptible to smoke. Extra precaution should be taken during wildfire season.
- Keep your windows and vents closed while driving. Again, only use air conditioning in the recirculate setting.
- Do not have campfires or use backyard fire pits.; This adds to the poor air quality.
- Make sure your medications are up-to-date and filled.;Everyone with Asthma or COPD should have a fast acting inhaler with them at all times. ;Learn how to take your inhaler using the best techniques.
- Pay attention to air quality reports on your local news channel or websites:
Who Is At Risk From Wood Smoke
Using a portable air cleaner and/or upgrading the air filter in your furnace or central heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system can help to improve indoor air quality.; Learn more.
- If you have heart or lung disease, such as congestive heart failure, angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema or asthma, you may experience health effects earlier and at lower smoke levels than healthy people.
- Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke, possibly because they are more likely to have chronic heart or lung diseases than younger people.
- Children also are more susceptible to smoke for several reasons:
- their respiratory systems are still developing,
- they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults, and
- they are more likely to be active outdoors.
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The Fire Restoration Experts
The sooner you can address your soot and smoke damage after a fire, the better off your entire home and health will be. Its important to remove soot as soon as possible to restore damaged items.; Its more important to do it correctly. Using a professional soot and smoke damage restoration company is the best decision.
If you experience a fire on your property call St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration for the best fire damage restoration services available. Our highly skilled technicians can remove soot from a wide variety of surfaces, including porcelain, metal, ceramics, crystal, and much more. We use the most effective products and equipment available in the industry to safely clean these items before the damage becomes permanent.
Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke
When wildfires burn near you, smoke can reach your community. Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants, buildings, and other material.; Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick, but people with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease , or heart diseasepdf icon, and childrenexternal icon, pregnant women, and responders;are especially at risk.
Breathing in smoke can affect you right away, causing:
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Can Air Pollution Cause Asthma
Research shows that high levels of air pollution can cause asthma in both children and adults.
Children living in areas with high pollution are more at risk. And if youre exposed to high levels of pollution when youre pregnant, whether you have asthma yourself or not, your baby could be more likely to develop asthma.
Reducing The Negative Impact Of Wood Fires
If you do choose to have a wood fire, there are ways to minimise their impact on people with respiratory conditions. In some states, people have an obligation to do this.
Heaters must comply with the Australian Standards for smoke and they should be installed and maintained by a qualified practitioner.
Victorias EPA recommends the use of dry, seasoned, and untreated hardwood for the fire, without overfilling it.
After starting the fire with small kindling, they advise setting air controls to high to allow strong airflow for the first 20 minutes after every new log is added.
Smouldering fires overnight are not recommended as it generates more smoke and pollution.
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How Do I Avoid Wildfire Smoke If I Have Asthma
- First you should have an emergency plan in place in case you must evacuate your home.
- Check local air quality reports from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at AirNow.gov. There is also a Fires page at AirNow.gov/fires where you can check a map for smoke and wildfires and find resources. Its important to note that smoke from wildfires can stay in the air for days, even after the wildfire has ended, so monitor air quality daily.
- If you think wildfire smoke is in the air, stay indoors as much as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Turn on your air conditioner and set it to recirculate mode be sure to use high efficiency particulate air filters to remove fine particles of smoke that may be in the air.
- If you spend most of your time in one room, make sure its closed off to outside air. Set up a portable air cleaner to help keep the air clear in that room.
- Avoid physical activity outdoors where you breathe heavily, forcing you to potentially inhale smoke particles at a faster rate.
- If you must go outside, make sure you keep your quick-relief asthma inhaler close by in case symptoms arise.
Some Common Symptoms From Smoke Exposure May Include:
- irritated eyes
- worsening of allergies
Those with;Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease , are especially at risk. ;Worsening Asthma or COPD symptoms that are not managed can lead to an Asthma emergency or a COPD lung attack. A COPD lung attack can be just as deadly as a heart attack. ;Both a COPD lung attack and an Asthma emergency may result in the need for hospitalization and even death.
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Stay Inside When Possible
This seems like an obvious solution, but it is important. Unless you have to go outside to get to and from work or to run important errands, stay inside your house during Wildfire Season. This will protect you from ingesting more smoke than you absolutely have to. Use an indoor air filtration system to further improve your indoor air quality.
Focus On Indoor Air Quality
Even though you cant control the air quality outside, to some degree you can control the air quality in your home.
Poor indoor air quality is usually the result of pollutants and allergens, such as dust mites, located within carpet, upholstery, and ductwork. Air circulation also plays a large role. To combat poor indoor air quality, you should deep clean your carpet and furniture as well as your air ducts. Have your HVAC system professionally inspected to ensure there are no hidden problems that can put your health at risk.
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How To Tell If Smoke Is Affecting You
High concentrations of smoke can trigger a range of symptoms.
- Anyone;may experience burning eyes, a runny nose, cough, phlegm, wheezing and difficulty breathing.i
- If you have heart or lung disease, smoke may make your symptoms worse
- People with heart disease;might experience chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, or fatigue.
- People with lung disease;may not be able to breathe as deeply or as vigorously as usual, and may experience symptoms such as coughing, phlegm, chest discomfort, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Asthma: Cut The Smoke
Secondhand smoke is a common asthma trigger. For some children, even the smell of smoke on clothing can be enough to cause breathing problems. To keep your home free of smoke, try these tips:
â¢ Donât allow smoking in your home or car.
â¢ Make sure other caregivers donât smoke around your child.
â¢ If you or other family members must smoke, do it outside, away from windows or doors, and be sure to wash your hands after smoking. Wear a shawl or blanket outside to reduce the amount of smoke residue on your clothing. Changing clothes and washing your hands and hair is ideal upon coming inside if your child’s asthma is triggered by secondhand smoke.
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Take Additional Precautions Due To Covid
Wildfire smoke can;affect your lungs and immune systems,;making you more likely to get lung infections, such as COVID-19. Because of the spread of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 this year, you need to take extra precautions.
In addition to the steps above:
- Choose home delivery when possible instead of in-person shopping. If you must shop in person, wear a mask, practice physical distancing and wash your hands often.
- Make sure you have a 30-day supply of your asthma medicines. Have them in a place where you can easily take them with you if you evacuate.
- Remember that cloth face masks or coverings and surgical masks that protect against COVID-19 will;not protect you from wildfire smoke.;But some masks may protect you from the smoke, such as an N95;mask;or;one with a;PM 2.5 filter. Many N95 masks have an exhalation valve that will not reduce the spread of the new coronavirus. You can wear a cloth or surgical mask over a mask with a valve.
- Know the difference between COVID-19 symptoms and exposure to wildfire smoke. Some symptoms overlap. Coughing and trouble breathing can happen with both conditions. But only COVID-19 will come with a fever and other symptoms like chills and diarrhea.;
- If you must evacuate, check with your local government for their direction because of COVID-19. Be prepared for symptom checks, physical distancing and to wear face masks or coverings at shelters. Don[t forget to bring extra face masks or coverings with you.
Spring Vs Fall Allergies
While the symptoms of spring and fall allergies can be similar, such as persistent runny nose, sneezing, and itchy or watery eyes, the triggers vary.
During spring months , tree and grass pollination are main triggers. During the fall months , triggers include weeds and outdoor molds, with ragweed being the most common.
Dr. Kasey Strothman, pediatric allergist and immunologist at Nationwide Childrens Hospital, says during the fall months, other environmental factors can worsen symptoms.
For example, while warmer temperatures are often welcomed, the lingering humidity, windy conditions, and dry air can all increase the release of mold spores. Outdoor activities such as raking leaves can also be problematic for those with pollen and mold allergy, as raking can stir up spores and cause their release into the air, Strothman told Healthline.
However, treatment for spring and fall allergies are similar, and include avoiding triggers as much as possible.
Avoidance measures are multiple and include monitoring pollen or mold counts, avoiding the outdoors during peak times of day, keeping windows and doors shut at home, and showering or changing clothes after being outdoors, Strothman said.
Medications are similar, too, and consist of over-the-counter nasal steroids like Flonase and Nasacort, and eye drops like ketotifen, says Dr. Ronald Saff, clinical assistant professor of medicine at Florida State University College of Medicine.
Symptoms of smoke irritation
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