Family Healthcast: Poor air quality from wildfires

People in the western part of the country now have poor air quality to worry about, as wildfires continue to burn.
Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 12:54 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Getting outside for some much needed air has been a great escape for some who have been cooped up since the pandemic began.

But September brought wildfire smoke so thick that air quality in parts of the country is unhealthy and health experts want those with underlying health conditions to stay indoors with the windows closed.

“People are already having increased anxiety as it is. Just because of increased social isolation, not being able to go to gatherings, not being able to go to social functions and now we’re asking them to isolate even further,” said Dr. Amy Markezich, Pulmonary Medical Director at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, WA.

For Portland paramedic Steven Troute, the mental health benefit of getting away for a few days outweighed they health risks.

“Take a chance to get away from work, be with friends and don’t become to obsessed with it,” said Troute.

Randy Reed of Fresno has a similar philosophy.

“You want to go out and see the sites and see the city that you’re coming to visit and so it’s difficult to convince yourself to stay inside,” said Reed.

Dr. Markezich said between the lockdown and the smoke she’s seeing more anxiety in her patients. It’s stress that can make existing conditions worse.

“This is not something that is going away anytime soon. And this is something that we’re all going to have to learn skills to deal with. And getting that extra outside help can be make a world of difference,” said Dr. Markezich.

Her advice is to get moving, try a home workout indoors and reach out to friends or family via zoom or the phone. And don’t hesitate to seek mental health help from a professional.

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