wildfires
1:24 pm
Wed September 7, 2011

Smoke Affecting People With Respiratory Illness

Public health officials are urging people with asthma or other respiratory diseases to avoid exposure to smoke, especially if it's as thick as it was this morning in parts of Austin.

Dell Children’s Medical Center has reported an increase in the number of children arriving with respiratory complications, but doctors say it’s difficult to determine if it’s directly related to wildfire smoke.

“There’s no real way to say exactly how much is due to smoke or particulates in the air, versus how much is viral, and how much pollen and mold,” Dell Children’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pat Crocker told KUT News. “It makes it really hard to give an exact answer on" how many patients are directly affected by the smoke.

Dr. Crocker says smoke may be one of several factors contributing to the irritation of asthma sufferers. He says if a child with asthma is not responding to his or her medicine or breathing treatments, parents should call their doctor first before visiting the emergency room.

If children are very ill and the inhaler is having no effect, they should be brought to the ER, he said.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has issued an orange alert for much of Central and South Texas.  "Active children and adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors," according to TCEQ.

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