Due to climate change, the area of California land burned annually has been steadily increasing for the past five decades. In addition to causing land and property damage, wildfires pollute the air with smoke, which can cause a number of health problems. Research has found that elevated air pollution exposure can lead to compromised immune systems.
Let’s take a look at the long-term health effects of California wildfire smoke, the effects of Southern California wildfires on children and the elderly, how to prepare for wildfires and therapy options for treating smoke inhalation symptoms. Learn more about the health impacts of wildfires and what you can do to protect yourself.
Can Wildfires Harm Long-Term Health?
The negative health effects of wildfire smoke come from the particulate matter within the smoke. Because particulate matter is made up of many components, including metals, dust particles, allergens, organic chemicals and acids like nitrates and sulfates, it can be quite harmful to human health. In fact, exposure to wildfire smoke can have long-term effects.
Those who have been exposed to wildfire smoke and its particulate matter can develop a number of symptoms, including:
- Irritation of the eyes, nasal passages, sinuses, throat or bronchi
- Excess mucus
Keep in mind that the symptoms listed above are just symptoms for generally healthy people. For those with asthma or another chronic obstructive lung condition, wildfire smoke can cause more serious side effects and may even require a trip to the emergency room.
When a fire involves materials like those found in a house, additional toxic vapors and gases may be released. These toxic compounds can injure the lungs by causing fluid buildup and cellular damage in places around the lung tissues. Once the smoke enters the lungs, the body reacts by inducing inflammation.
Although this inflammatory response may begin in just the cells lining the lungs, it can quickly lead to a body-wide inflammatory response. This type of response puts people at a greater risk of developing infections. Those with allergies may experience worse allergic reactions. Small particulate matter that has entered the lungs may be able to pass through the lung tissue into the bloodstream. Research has also found that exposure to wildfire smoke may worsen heart or cardiovascular issues.
Effects of Wildfire Smoke on the Young and Old
Those who are most at risk of experiencing the negative health effects of wildfire smoke include the young and the elderly — especially those with respiratory or cardiovascular problems. Because children’s airways are still developing, they are particularly vulnerable to the harmful substances often contained in wildfire smoke. Children also tend to spend more time outside, increasing their chances of smoke exposure.
As the elderly are more prone to have an existing respiratory or cardiac condition, they are more sensitive to the fine and ultrafine particles found in smoke. These tiny particles can aggravate chronic lung and heart diseases, which can have devastating health consequences. For both the elderly and children, wildfire smoke may cause a sore throat, itchy eyes, headaches and even nausea.
How to Prepare for Future Wildfires
To be as prepared as possible for future wildfires, check out these three tips:
1. Be Ready
The first step in preparing for wildfires is to stay informed. Make sure you are aware of any wildfire updates by:
- Tuning into your local news station for instructions from local officials.
- Using online resources like the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map.
- Checking in with your local air district.
You can prepare further by planning escape routes, installing a dual-sensor smoke alarm and having a disaster supply kit on hand. In emergency situations, officials may call for an evacuation. Remember to close all windows, doors, vents and blinds before evacuating.
2. Know the Air Quality Index
In addition to staying up to date on the location of wildfires, make sure you know the air quality index (AQI) in your area before stepping outside each day. Checking the local AQI can tell you whether it’s safe to do things like take your kids to the park or go for a morning walk. An AQI over 100 indicates potential danger for those sensitive to smoke, such as children and the elderly. Everyone should try to stay indoors if the AQI is over 150.
3. Avoid Outdoor Activities
Stay indoors whenever possible to reduce your risk of exposure to harmful wildfire smoke particles. While inside, make sure all your windows and doors are closed to keep smoke out. Maintain clean air within your home by using a CARB-certified air cleaner, which can cut down on indoor particle levels. Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution like using a gas stove, vacuuming and lighting candles.
Those who need to be outdoors for an extended amount of time in places with heavy smoke or where ash is disturbed should consider wearing an N95 respirator mask. Because wearing a respirator may make it more difficult to breathe, those with a heart or lung condition should consult with their doctor before using one.
How to Protect Yourself From the Health Impacts of Wildfires With IV Therapy
For those experiencing headaches, coughing, dehydration or other common wildfire smoke side effects, IV therapy may be able to help alleviate these symptoms. Increasing supplemental antioxidants along with certain vitamins can give the immune system the boost it needs to rebound from smoke particle inhalation. This means that receiving a concentrated dose of nutrients through IV therapy can help alleviate the symptoms that stem from harmful materials found in wildfire smoke.
Specifically, high doses of vitamin C, vitamin D and omega fatty acids can aid the immune system in recovery. Vitamin C, in particular, can help the body’s tissues heal. For this reason, receiving an IV therapy rich in vitamin C and other key vitamins and minerals can help mitigate the effects of wildfire smoke inhalation.
Contact Mobile IV Medics for IV Therapy
If you are suffering from symptoms due to wildfire smoke inhalation, contact Mobile IV Medics to receive IV therapy treatment in the comfort of your own home. At Mobile IV Medics, we know it’s a pain to leave the house when you’re not feeling well. That’s why we come to you with the relief of IV therapy.
We respond quickly to provide fast, easy and reliable IV treatments. All our infusions are administered by a registered nurse who will use a topical numbing spray to make the process as painless as possible. Our IV experts will assess your condition and make an IV package recommendation based on your symptoms so you can get customized relief.