Fire Season: Respiratory Health A Concern

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Barlow Respiratory Hospital provides health tips for days during and following a fire.

Where there's fire, there's smoke, and that's not good for your respiratory health, cautions experts at Barlow Respiratory Hospital, a long-term, acute care hospital serving Southern California since 1902.

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Residents far beyond the burn areas should monitor their respiratory health during what may be a long fire season. As fire activity increases, air quality will get worse and greater health risks will arise, says Dr. David Nelson, medical director at Barlow Respiratory Hospital.

"When we think about our safety during a local fire, it is important to also take measures to safeguard our respiratory health," says Dr. Nelson. "Nearby wild fires can pose significant threats to our health, and we must heed the warnings before health problems arise."

Smoke can cause coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, headaches and chest discomfort. Smoke can also irritate the eyes and sinuses and cause a scratchy throat and runny nose.

High levels of smoke can affect anyone, including healthy people. Senior citizens, many of whom have pre-existing medical conditions, and children, who are more active and breathe more air per pound of body weight, may be more susceptible to the ill effects of smoke. Smoke can also aggravate symptoms for those with heart and respiratory conditions, including angina, congestive heart failure, allergies, asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis

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