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Smoke from fires can impact your health

November 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Air quality Monday for most of L.A., Orange, and Riverside counties hovered around the unhealthful levels. Sensitive people in the smoke-impacted areas are a top concern, but experts say danger is also present miles away from the fires. Tracey Creech and her daughter traveled from their West L.A. home to Pasadena in search of an indoor place to play. They could not escape the smell of smoke.

"It's made me more tired and I think it's made her a tired to go outside. She's been sneezing and I've been sneezing a lot," said Tracey Creech.

The Air Quality Management District deemed the air quality just about everywhere in L.A. and Orange counties as unhealthful.

"Patients who have asthma, people who have emphysema, people who have allergies or if you're just recovering from a common cold you probably should stay away from the outdoors," said Dr. Waafa Alrashid, Huntington Hospital.

Doctors recommend not to exercise outdoors or even indoors.

"So when we go indoors, we are probably trying to continue clearing our systems of these pollutants. It is probably a stress to exercise inside as well for the body," said Dr. Alrashid.

Many playgrounds were empty, but some folks decided to take their chances.

"I thought about it really hard. I decided just to do it because I wanted to stay in shape -- it's my lifestyle," said Tom McManus.

"You can see the mountains. It doesn't' look that bad," said Gloria Mendoza.

Experts say the blue skies may be deceiving. Doctors say fine particles will still be around on the ground and in the trees. They recommend staying indoors up to a few days after the fires go out.

"Even if you can't smell the smoke, we are talking about particular matter that you cannot see that is microscopic that can lodge into the airways," said allergist, Dr. Rita Kachru.

Doctors also warn the hot weather combined with pollution can quickly bring on dehydration, especially in the elderly and the young, so they recommend drinking plenty of water.

"I think we're going to end up going back home and playing with our toys," said Creech.

If you have asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis and you're not responding to your regular medications call your doctor or head into an urgent care.

Also seek medical care if you have persistent headaches, dizziness, nausea, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.


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