The recent smoke in the Northern Nevada area comes from a variety of fires currently burning in the surrounding areas. This year brought a very wet winter, which many people assume will decrease fire danger. Unfortunately, an increase in water also brings a plethora of cheat grass, which is like a match stick. We need to take preventative measures to protect our lungs against long term exposure as this may just be the beginning of our fire season.
Smoke is a mixture of airborne particulates and gases as a consequence of the combustion of materials. Depending upon the length of exposure, the density of the smoke, and our predisposition to respiratory sensitivities its effects will produce varying degrees of symptoms. One of the primary concerns when dealing with prolonged exposure to smoke is pulmonary irritation. This irritation can result in injury to the tissues and bronchial spasms as well as triggering inflammation as an immune response that can lead to a wide range of other symptoms. Joint pain, skin disorders and any autoimmune conditions can flare up during exposure to smoke because of the immune response. The more common symptoms associated with smoke inhalation and decrease of oxygen intake include sore or hoarse throat, itchy or burning eyes, difficult, shallow, or painful breathing, headache, dry or wet cough, runny, congested, or painful nose. Irritants from the smoke will especially affect people with pre-existing conditions like asthma, allergies, COPD, emphysema, or sinusitis. These conditions can worsen. Even healthy and robust people can be affected by high levels of smoke.
Preventative measures that can be taken are as follows:
Stay indoors with windows closed and air conditioning on for a good part of the day.
Don’t increase particulate matter in the air such as lighting candles, wood stoves and fireplaces and refrain from vacuuming.
Wear a HEPA filter or dust mask.
Avoid heavy exertion. Heavy breathing means you’re going to suck in more smoke.
Avoid cigarette smoke.
Leave the area. If your respiratory, immune, or cardiovascular systems are seriously compromised, the best defense is to get out of the smoke.
Go to the hospital if you are having an emergency.
The above mentioned are more obvious measures that one can take, but how about using methods that help detoxify our bodies. There are many we can do at home and others you may seek from local professionals. Give these methods a try to keep your body as healthy as possible:
Eat Well: Eating high quality whole foods whenever the body is under stress will help assure it gets the essential nutrients and minerals it needs. There is no replacement for real food, no junk food or sugars.
Anti-oxidants: Take a supplementation or increase herbs and plant foods that contain copious amounts of vitamin C and other anti-oxidants. Rose, elderberries and stinging nettles are all great choices here.
Vitamin D: Take at least 1,000 iu/day to support your immune system. If you have been diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency (which a high percentage of people have), you will need to take a higher dosage.
Drink Veggie Juice: Fresh juices are detoxifiers and rebuilders that will facilitate the elimination of the harmful materials and rebuild damaged tissue.
Use far infrared saunas as often as possible as it will fast forward the detoxification process by eliminating toxins through the skin by sweating.
Get acupuncture: Acupuncture will support your system minimizing damage to the tissues, decrease or stop any symptoms you may have associated with smoke inhalation and help detoxify your body as well as help balance the whole body.
Here are some specific remedies you can try to help with the following symptoms:
For cough, use eucalyptus, mint, menthol, nutmeg, or ginger essential oils on your chest and back. Eat steamed pears to soothe inflamed lungs. Eat daikon and regular radishes to breakdown phlegm in the lungs.
Red, Itchy, Painful Eyes: Use cold water compresses. Put fresh cucumber slices on eyes. Soak and place chrysanthemum flower tea bags on eyes.
Headache: Drink plenty of pure water. Remove yourself from the smoke and do deep breathing exercises.
Sinusitis: Use a Neti pot. Eat Japanese wasabi.
Psycho-emotional: Use Rescue Remedy daily. Meditate. Use essential oils that are calming such as lavender, rosewood, Roman chamomile and clary sage.
Sore Throat: Do oral saline rinses.
If you would like to be guided in the use of any of these treatments, you may contact Sierra Acupuncture & Healing Arts. We are also on hand to provide far infrared sauna treatments, acupuncture and prescribe Chinese herbal medicine.