As most are well aware by now, British Columbia has been hard-hit with forest fires this month. There are currently over 200 wildfires burning across the Province, a number that continues to rise due to the hot and dry weather conditions that we’ve been seeing.
As a result, wildfire smoke can have a major impact on your health. It can cause irritation of the eyes, sinuses, lungs and throat (with symptoms such as coughing, chest discomfort, shortness of breath and wheezing), can trigger headaches, and can even increase the risk of heart attacks. Those with pre-existing health problems like asthma and COPD may find that these conditions are worsened, and you may also be at an increased risk of developing pneumonia.
As a primary care physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary will often treat those suffering from breathing problems with a number of different medications, including inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators. The most common choices include Ventolin, Advair, Symbicort and Ventolin. Patients are also urged to monitor their breathing – and, if possible, avoid exposure to smoke by staying indoors and keeping all windows closed. Extra precautions should also be taken with younger children as their breathing systems are still underdeveloped, making them more susceptible to developing smoke-related illness.