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Wildfire smoke can bring or worsen long-term health issues for some

Higher health risks for people with respiratory, heart issues

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- If you've been having difficulty breathing, with asthma flare-ups, or even asthma-like symptoms these very smoky days on the High Desert, you're not alone.

Wildfires around the Pacific Northwest have caused poor air quality across the region, forcing people to breathe in smoke and particulates.

Pulmonologist Dr. Kevin Sherer with Summit Medical Group said Wednesday while the smoke and particulates can irritate everyone, people with chronic lung disease or heart disease are at an increased risk.

Sherer said he's seen higher numbers of patients recently who suffer from asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

"There are concerns among epidemiologists and experts in the field, there could be some long-term consequences for people with heart disease, COPD or asthma," Sherer said. "We just don't have enough data to show what those effects are. Fortunately, most people who are young and healthy will completely recover, after the smoke is gone."

Symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing or irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, or even bronchitis can develop from the smoke.

He recommended doing what you can do at home, if you're experiencing these symptoms and can't go to the doctor's office. 

"The best thing to do with environmental smoke like this is to try to avoid it," Sherer said. "So people should try to remain indoors as much as possible. If you're indoors and your home is too warm, run an air conditioner, if you have it. There may be some benefits of using an air filter at home, if you have one."

Sherer said wearing an N95 mask will assist with screening out the fine particulate matter.

You can visit this CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/air/wildfire-smoke/default.htm for more information on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke and its impacts.

Central Oregon / Environment / Fire Alert / Health / News / Top Stories
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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.

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