Wildfire and Your Lungs

We are full-on into FIRE season here in Oregon.  Wild Heart Medicine is here in Portland and there are huge fires burning north, east and south of us.  Many, many people in those areas have had to leave their homes to the mercy of the fires and sadly some have lost their lives.  The nation’s firefighters are working around the clock in scary conditions to help us protect our homes and lives.  We even have help from firefighters in other countries.  THANK YOU, I am deeply grateful for the dedication of these brave men and women working tirelessly to keep us safe.

This morning the air quality in Portland has taken a downturn for the worse.  My home smells like a campfire, bringing back scary memories of last year’s fire in the Gorge.  It’s predicted to be hot, windless and dry the next few days. Here are some important points about smoke inhalation.

Symptoms of smoke inhalation:

If you experience these symptoms please contact your doctor for advice. 

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Painful/burning/dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Asthma exacerbation
  • Scratchy/sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Pain in chest with deep breathing

Here are some tips for caring for yourself and your lungs. The information here is not intended to be used as medical advice.  If you are experiencing symptoms related to poor air quality and smoke please see your favorite doctor. In addition, if you are pregnant or nursing please consult a physician before taking a supplement or using herbs.

Caring for your lungs in smokey times:

  • In General
    • Stay indoors on days when air quality is poor.   Children, people with lung disease and elderly are especially susceptible.
    • Limit outdoor exercise when the air is smoky.  This includes big hikes, running, biking, etc.  Any time you are breathing deeply in yucky air, you are breathing all the particles into your lungs too.   Instead, exercise indoors or at a gym.  
    • Got kids? Here are some ideas for keeping them from climbing the walls and saving your sanity when you can’t play outdoors https://www.todaysparent.com/toddler/20-fun-indoor-games/
    • Avoid opening the windows
    • Use a HEPA air purifier or air conditioner with clean filters inside to keep air clean
    • If you do need to be outdoors, wear a particle mask.
    • Stay hydrated: drink plenty of water.  This will help to keep the tissues from drying out, thin mucus making it easier to get it out, and can prevent headaches.
  • Herbs to support the lungs
    • Thyme: an amazing herb for coughs and lung support thyme is an expectorant and helps calm bronchial passages.
    • Tumeric: a powerful anti-inflammatory herb.  It reduces inflammation system wide and in the lungs.
    • Slippery elm: a soothing herb for irritation in respiratory tract. It is also has anti-inflammation properties.
  • Supplements to support the lungs
    • NAC: N-acetylcysteine: a favorite antioxidant for lung health, NAC is used as a treatment for asthma, COPD, and common cold.  It reduces phlegm and cough, thins mucus, and helps mucus expectoration.
    • Vitamin C: an excellent antioxidant used as a mast cell stabilizer in people with asthma and allergies.  Mast cells release histamine into the tissues.  Vitamin C helps to prevent this thus helping with allergic symptoms.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms from smoke inhalation, please seek care.

I'm keeping my kids indoors this week.  What will you do to protect yourself?