NASA photo of Camp Fire pollution spreading over California, November 2018 creating bad air

HealthTap is helping those suffering from grey skies full of bad air. Ever since Camp Fire erupted earlier this month, the air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area has gotten so poor that merely being there for a day is the equivalent of smoking 10 cigarettes. Millions have been affected by the wildfires,  so it’s no surprise that HealthTap has seen a surge of interest in answers to this question first posted on HealthTap in 2013: “Smoke from fires is causing my sore throat and cough. What do I do?

Other related questions, such as “With the fires in California causing air pollution, will a whole house humidifier help eliminate air pollution within the house?” are also informing HealthTap visitors.

In this case, a humidifier alone won’t necessarily help. Instead, a HEPA filter is the solution, according to HealthTap’s doctors.

Bad air and asthma sufferers

Another question comes from an asthma sufferer: “What could happen if someone with asthma and acute bronchitis breathes in air with PM 2.5 particle index 322 (hazardous level) due to smoke from wildfires? Will the use of rescue inhaler cause more toxic air getting inside the lungs?”

The HealthTap doctor’s answer: “The basics: All the air we breathe has extraneous particles of some sort unless it comes through a well-designed filter. Increasing particulate in the air has the potential to trigger the protective mechanisms of the lung which is what triggers in asthma. Rescue inhalers allow an asthmatic to release some bronchospasm & function like unaffected people. Not using an inhaler when needed is riskier.”

Visit or download the HealthTap app on iOS or Android to get trusted answers directly from doctors to your questions about air quality or any other health concern.

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