Smoke in the air – What can be done?
by Timothy Marquez, BA, RRT – MCH Pulmonary Patient Educator, Cardiopulmonary
As most of us in West Texas woke up this morning, we found there to be a certain thickness in the air, plus an aroma … components from a nearby fire. Throughout the day, the haziness in the air, along with the strong winds, blew in this smoke from the blazing fires north of us. We hold those in the immediate area of the fire in our thoughts as they deal with damaged properties and loss of life in the region that is battling the wildfires.
The smoke that has filled the West Texas air is an irritant and a by-product of fire. It contains various components such as carbon monoxide, which is hazardous to your health. Smoke can cause issues to the body of any individual – even healthy individuals. However, smoke can cause more issues to those with respiratory conditions, such as Asthma and COPD. The Asthma and COPD populations already tend to have a hard time breathing and smoke as an irritant can cause Asthma Attacks and COPD flare ups.
What can be done?
Consult your primary care provider on whether or not you need to up your dose of Asthma/COPD medications. If you can stay indoors and away from the smoke outside, do so. If you must be outside for any reason, then wear a respiratory mask to help filter the air you breathe.
Children who have Asthma and are at schools should stay indoors because the smoke in the outside air can bring about Asthma attacks. As a precaution, parents should send inhalers with their children if the medication is not already with the school nurse.
What about allergies?
As mentioned above, smoke is an irritant to the body. It not only irritates the airways, but it can cause mild to severe allergy symptoms including itchy water eyes, itchy throat, cough and quite possibly an allergic reaction.
What can be done?
If you are not regularly taking allergy medicines, but know your triggers, you might need to take allergy medicine during this time. For example, if you take medicine for seasonal allergies, you can take that those allergy medications during this time. There are many over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications from which to choose. Examples include Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec. If you are concerned about whether or not you should take any allergy medication, please consult your primary care provider.