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Recent C Oregon wildfires spark smoke issues

Published On: Jul 24 2013 10:50:57 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 24 2013 11:12:08 PM CDT

Smoke from two recent wildfires are causing health problems for some people. We have some tips on how to protect yourself.

BEND, Ore. -

Prineville and Madras residents are still really feeling the smoke from the two recent wildfires in Central Oregon.

In Bend on Wednesday, it's not nearly as bad, but that can change quickly.

Check the latest info at the Oregon DEQ's Air Quality Index page.

NewsChannel 21 visited with a doctor to share tips with us to keep you safe from the smoke.

Doctors at Bend Memorial Clinic say they've seen an influx of patients in the last week because of smoke-related issues.

The biggest problem: people having trouble breathing.

Wildfires aren't just dangerous to land and property, but also for your health.

The smoke from wildfires is caused by particles and gases, like carbon dioxide from the burning of plants. The smoke can irritate your airways: lungs, throat, eyes and nose.

"I think people know that the smoke is there, but I think they underestimate the effects that it can have on them if they have one of these chronic conditions," Dr. Adam Williams, an allergist at BMC, said Wednesday.

Williams says the smoke has caused flare-ups in his patients with chronic conditions, like asthma and emphysema. Heart disease patients are affected, too.

Williams points to studies that show an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

People ages 70 and up can also be more susceptible, because their body is less able to deal with the stress smoke brings.

Young children aren't immune either.

"Most parents tend to be cautious with small children under the age of 5," Williams said. "(Just) trying to keep them from being exposed to the smoke as much as possible."

Williams advises people with conditions to take proper medication, and not to rely on paper masks as a face shield.

The No. 1 tip doctors give is one that's not too popular here in Central Oregon: Stay indoors.

"It's very hard for people to do that," Williams said. "I know it's hard, but it's really the only way you can do anything to avoid having a bad complication from the effects of the smoke."

For those concerned about long-term effects, Williams says, with this small of an amount, there's nothing to worry about.

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