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respiratory systems

Can Wildfire Smoke Affect Your Health?

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Image is from MyFOX8.xom

It seems as though there is always a story on the news about a wildfire breaking out and how difficult they are to contain. Most people think of wildfires and they think about the damage and destruction they can do to homes, vehicles, and personal belongings. What most people don’t consider is the damage the wildfire can do to their health.

How Can Smoke Affect Your Health?

The smoke that is created from a wildfire is a mixture of fine particles and gasses from the burning trees and plant materials. These particles and gasses can result in:

  • Burning eyes
  • An irritated respiratory system
  • Hacking cough
  • Worsens heart disease
  • Worsens lung disease

Who Can Be the Most Effected By the Smoke From Wildfires?

The smoke from a wildfire can affect anyone, however, there are certain people who are at greater risk of having complications.

  • People who have heart or lung problems: If you have any type of heart disease, asthma, or another type of lung disease, you are at greater risk of developing complications from the smoke from a wildfire than a healthy person would be.
  • The elderly: The elderly are at greater risk of developing complications due to wildfire smoke. The reason is that an elderly person has a weaker heart and weaker lungs than a younger person. Also, many elderly people already have lung and heart complications.
  • Children: Children are in danger when it comes to wildfire smoke. A child’s airway is still developing, therefore, they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Also, children spend a great deal of their time outdoors playing.

How to Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke

If you want to protect your family and your family from wildfire smoke complications, there are a few steps that you should take.

  • Pay attention to air quality reports: If the air outdoors is dangerous due to wildfire smoke, it will be mentioned on the news. If the news or health reports say that the air quality is poor, you should try to stay indoors.
  • Keep your windows closed: If the air quality outside is poor, you want to keep the air quality inside clean. To do this, keep the windows closed. If you need to run your air conditioner, you should close the intake for fresh air. Also, keep the filter clean to keep the smoke from outside from getting in.
  • Avoid any activities that will increase pollution: When the air quality outdoors is bad, you should avoid burning candles, using your fireplace, and using your gas stove. You should also avoid vacuuming. It can stir up particles in the air, which can make the indoor pollution worse.
  • Don’t rely on dust masks for protection: You should not put on a dust mask and expect it to protect you from the wildfire smoke. These masks are designed to trap large particles, like sawdust. They are not made to collect the small particles that are created by wildfires.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice: If you are having trouble breathing during the fire, you should contact your doctor. You should follow the instructions that the doctor gives you and take the medication as prescribed.
  • Consider evacuating: If you are having difficulty breathing both indoors and outdoors, you should consider evacuating until the firefighters have everything under control. Evacuating could be the healthiest thing for you.

In a perfect world, wildfires wouldn’t put us at risk. Since we don’t live in a perfect world it is important to know who is at risk and what you can do to protect yourself and your family during a wildfire.

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4 Illnesses That Are Common in the Winter

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Images is from Live and Learn

Learn about the most common winter illnesses and what you can do to fight them.

As the leaves began to fall off the trees and temperatures drop, illnesses such as the flu peak. Many viruses are more likely to spread in the winter. There are several reasons for this. Dry cold air makes it easier for viruses to get into your nasal passages and some germs, such as influenza, are more stable and stay in the air longer when the air is dry and cold. Plus, more people are indoors in the winter. Being indoors with all the doors and windows shut make it more likely that you will be exposed to germs. Here are some of the most common winter illnesses and ways that you can prevent them.

Flu

Influenza, also called the flu is a respiratory virus that is caused by influenza. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the flu virus is at its peak from November through March in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu is prevalent from May through September.

Symptoms of the flu include body aches, high fever, coughing, sore throat and runny nose. Flu is contagious and spreads from person to person by sneezing and coughing. It may also spread through infected surfaces. Populations most susceptible to serious complications from the flu include the elderly and very young as well as those with impaired immune systems.

The best way to prevent the flu is to make sure that you and everyone in your house is vaccinated against the flu. The flu can be treated with Tamiflu if it is diagnosed within 48 hours. Otherwise, the illness has to run its course.

Asthma

Cold air can trigger asthma symptoms and causes wheezing and shortness of breath. Allergens are often a major contributor to asthma. Being indoors leads to breathing in mold, dust and dander, all of which are asthma triggers. Wind and rain also stir up allergens. Working out in the cold weather can also exacerbate asthma, making it more difficult to breathe. Ways to deal with asthma in the winter include:

  • Understand and avoid your triggers-If you are allergic to dust mites or mold, keep your house cool and dry.
  • Exercise indoors
  • Cover your face when you go outdoors

Norovirus

Noroviruses, also known as the “winter vomiting bug” is notorious for ruining cruise passenger’s vacations and causing entire ships to turn back around for port. Noroviruses strike not only cruise passengers, but those on dry land, as well. It is common on cruise ships due to the fact that they are highly contagious. Noroviruses spread through contaminated food and surfaces. Cruise ships provide the perfect setting for noroviruses due to the large number of people confined to a relatively small area. The symptoms of norovirus include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. The best way to prevent norovirus is to wash your hands frequently.

Bronchitis

Bronchitis is the irritation and swelling of the air passages of the lungs. This illness most often occurs in winter and is often a complication of another illness, such as the flu or asthma. Frequent coughing is the most common symptom of bronchitis. Although it is usually not a serious illness in healthy individuals, it can lead to pneumonia in certain individuals. If the condition does not go away in two weeks, contact your health care physician. To reduce the risk of bronchitis, wash your hands frequently and get vaccinated for the flu.

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