COLORADO SPRINGS — The mountains have been covered in a haze for much of the summer due to wildfire smoke. Poor air quality caused by wildfires can make anybody sick, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with asthma, respiratory diseases, heart disease, and other health problems are at a higher risk.
Some of the side effects of inhaling wildfire smoke include burning eyes, wheezing, chest pain, tiredness, headaches, irritated sinuses, runny nose, trouble breathing, and a scratchy throat. And while these issues can be short-term, depending on the amount of smoke in the air, it’s important to see a doctor if the symptoms worsen or linger. The doctors at Asthma and Allergy Associates in Colorado Springs have seen several patients regarding these issues.
“Well, it could have some long-term impacts. It’s been, what a week or two now that we’ve had poor air quality problems like this. We had some problems earlier in the spring and summer. The best thing we can do to protect ourselves is to wear our masks when we are outside, to put the air conditioners on recirculate, using the air purifier at home, and to avoid outdoor exposures if you can,” Dr. Daniel F. Soteres, MD, MPH, allergy and immunology physician at Asthma & Allergy Associates, said.
“Our practice has three physicians, four mid-level providers, nurse practitioners, and PAs. We see hundreds of patients every week. I would say there’s been a 20 - 30 percent increase in respiratory distress or respiratory complaints related to smoke exposure.”
It’s important to remember that wildfire smoke can be harmful because it is a mix of small particles and gases emitted from burning buildings, trees, and materials.
If you are having issues with the smoke, it’s best to stay inside until things clear up.