It’s wildfire season in California and that means problems for those with respiratory conditions. So, what can you do to protect yourself or your children from smoke when you have asthma?
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 may 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.
While it’s important for everyone to avoid inhaling smoke, it is especially important for those with asthma. Smoke can trigger asthma attacks and cause harm to those who aren’t prepared with emergency medicine and attack plans.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 cigarette 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.
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.
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 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.
What Should You Do in Case of an Asthma Attack?
First and foremost, you should have an asthma attack plan worked out with your doctor ahead of time. 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 asthma apps 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.
Aluna is an innovative, scientifically-accurate, and portable spirometry exam and asthma management platform paired with a mobile game kids love. Developed by four asthmatic UC Berkeley grads with guidance from the world’s leading pediatric pulmonologists, Aluna seeks to shed light on childhood asthma by providing better data for doctors and parents while coaching kids to develop good asthma management habits.
This regular testing of lung function helps both doctors and patients to more closely monitor respiratory health over time and create better, more informed treatment plans. Proper usage of Aluna will result in better control of asthma.
If your child lives in California and has been diagnosed with asthma, contact us for more information on how they can participate in the Aluna clinical trial. Get valuable information for you and your child’s doctor regarding their FEV1 scores.