It’s Fire Season in Northern California and that means extra problems for those with chronic disease, allergies, and asthma. Smoke and particulates can worsen chronic lung conditions, exacerbating the symptoms of asthma, such as shortness of breath. So how can people with asthma protect themselves during Wildfire Season?
Why Does Smoke Trigger Asthma?
Smoke and ash are full of irritants and pollutants that are harmful to respiratory systems. When ingested, these irritants settle and “stick” to airways, which is why you start to feel a tickle in your throat when you are in a smoky area for too long. Smoke can cause lung damage, bronchitis, or difficulty breathing.
Wildfires are particularly dangerous because when these particles become airborne, anybody’s lungs can suffer the consequences, not just those with chronic lung disease.
While it’s important that everyone avoids inhaling smoke from the fires, it is especially important for those with asthma. It’s best if you can find a way to avoid the smoke altogether and at the very least, be prepared with asthma medication and your Asthma Action Plan.
Tips for Avoiding Asthma Triggers During Wildfire Season
While it may be impossible to entirely avoid poor air quality due to California wildfires, you can put up safeguards against smoke by doing the following.
1. Know when to leave.
Don’t wait for evacuation orders. If the smoke is visible, prepare to move to a place with cleaner air. Just in case, make sure that you have an active plan for evacuation.
Pack bags with your important documents and other essentials, like asthma medicine. Have a game plan for where you are going to go. Hopefully, it doesn’t come down to it, but just in case it does, it pays to be prepared.
2. 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.
3. Remember that all smoke is a threat to your asthma.
While the California wildfires are bringing it to the forefront of our minds, remember that it’s just as bad to inhale any secondhand smoke as it is to stand in the middle of a forest fire. You do yourself a disservice if you avoid the big triggers but make yourself available to the small triggers.
4. Lock up your doors and windows.
Even if you think all your windows are closed, it doesn’t hurt to walk through your house and check each one for leaks or broken seals. Make sure everything is closed tight and locked.
5. Focus on indoor air quality.
Even though you can’t 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.
How to Prepare for Asthma during Wildfire Season?
First and foremost, you should have a plan for treating an asthma attack that you’ve worked out with your doctor. If you don’t have a plan for medication or inhaler use, you should schedule an appointment immediately. Additionally, you should ask your doctor for advice on how to handle the California wildfire smoke. The need for caution will vary in intensity for each individual.
Collecting and storing data is a great way to manage your asthma for the long-term. Using an asthma device and app to help you monitor your breathing, perform lung tests, and record triggers can offer data and information that will help not only you but your doctor as well.
The Aluna device works for both adults with asthma and those suffering from childhood asthma. If your doctor diagnoses asthma, ask about the possibility of home-based care and remote monitoring of your asthma symptoms. The data can provide valuable insights regarding the effects of Wildfire smoke on your lungs’ condition.