In light of an air quality advisory that was recently issued by Environment Canada as a result of the forest fires that are burning across British Columbia, individuals who suffer from pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD and other lung diseases may notice an increase in their symptoms.
As the wildfires are expected to last for several weeks, it is important to have a good health plan in place – especially if you are older, as you may be at a higher risk of developing lung-related problems as a direct result of smoke inhalation. Younger children and pregnant women are also at a higher risk of running into problems as well. While not everyone will react to smoke in the same way, some telltale signs that it may be affecting you include burning or itchy eyes, as well as a runny nose and cough. Individuals who are asthmatic may notice that they are coughing more than usual, wheezing, feel tight in the chest or short of breath. Similar symptoms are also present with COPD in addition to excess mucus being produced.
In order to prevent some of these symptoms from occurring or worsening, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a physician practicing in the Greater Vancouver area, notes that it is important to ensure you are continuing your treatment and using any inhaled corticosteroids or other related treatment as prescribed by your physician. If you have not yet sought out any treatment, it is important that you do so.
As the tiny particles from forest fire smoke can easily make its way into your home without you even realizing, triggering symptoms even further, it is also recommended that you keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. While this may not be ideal, especially during the hot weather that is expected to arrive in Vancouver as early as tomorrow, you will be much healthier in the long run. If you do not have access to air conditioning in your home or enough fans, buildings such as malls and community centres are a great way to seek additional, cool and clean-air shelter. Cooking can also add to indoor pollution levels, so rather than using your oven or stove, try eating foods that are pre-cooked and non-perishable – however, still make sure that you are making healthy food choices.
If forest fires are active in your area, remember to pay attention to your local news and monitor weather conditions as well as the air quality levels.