What To Do About Wildfire Smoke Inhalation

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We hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. Our hearts go out to the communities affected by these devastating wildfires. While the immediate threats to life and property are the foremost concern, smoke particles have an impact on our lungs and well-being. Outlined below are key notes about symptoms, how to limit exposure and natural therapeutics. We hope you find this useful!

How can I tell if the smoke is affecting my family?  

  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Persistent cough, phlegm, wheeze, scratchy throat or irritated sinuses
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath, asthma attack or lung irritation
  • Irregular heartbeat, chest pain or fatigue

What are ways to limit exposure to smoke?

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  • Stay indoors whenever possible with the doors and windows closed.
  • Avoid rigorous outdoor activities.
  • If you do spend time outdoors, change your clothes as soon as you get inside and wash exposed parts.  Additionally, rinse dogs off with water. Keeps cats inside until quality of air improves.
  • N95 masks properly worn may offer some protection. Do not rely on paper or dust masks for protection.
  • Use a HEPA filter(high-efficiency particulate air) such as Healthmate by Austin Air. SFNM is a distributor and can order this for you.
  • Avoid vacuuming, which can stir up dust.
  • When driving keep windows closed and use air conditioner set to recirculate.
  • Track air quality using AirNow. Open windows for fresh air when the air quality improves.

What are some natural ways to support my health?

  • Irrigate sinuses with saline using a bulb syringe or a neti pot.  
  • Steam inhalation—add a few drops of an essential oil (such thyme or eucalyptus) to nearly boiling water in a bowl, put a towel over your head and breathe in deeply. This will help clear out your sinuses.
  • Use an herbal eyewash to soothe irritated eyes. You should be able to find at your local health food store. Herbs it will likely include: calendula (marigold), hydrastis (goldenseal), chamomile, and euphrasia (eyebright).
  • Increase water intake to reduce scratchy throat, coughing and dry nasal passages.
  • Increase intake of anti-inflammatory foods: garlic, turmeric, ginger, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, beets, pineapples, etc.  
  • Increase intake of high anti-oxidantfoods: goji berries, wild blueberries, dark chocolate, pecans, artichoke, elderberries, kidney beans, cranberries.
  • Supplemental anti-oxidants: N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Smoke causes inflammation via oxidative damage so, antioxidants are great for cleaning up the debris.  
  • Herbal Respiratory Suport: marshmallow root, yerba santa, mullein, elecampane and licorice (don’t use if you have high blood pressure).
  • Herbal Stress Support: Adaptogens—ashwaghanda, eleutherococcus, rhodiola, holy basil; Nervines—lemon balm, passion flower, kava kava, valerian.

Our doctors are also herbalists and have put together an herbal tincture to support your lungs. This is available now at 10% off our normal tincture price. Give us a call if you would like to nourish your lungs with botanical medicine.

Most importantly, listen to your body and contact your healthcare provider or 911 if you are experiencing health symptoms. Additionally, contact your veterinarian if your pet or livestock is having difficulty breathing or coughing. Stay Safe!

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Dr. Katie Strobe specializes in mental health, functional gastroenterology, immune support, skin health, thyroid health and detoxification. Dr. Strobe is enthusiastic about seeing how she can help you in your journey towards optimal health. She is available Tue-Fri and is currently accepting new patients. Call 415-643-6600 to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consult.