TUESDAY, Dec. 12, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Fire and smoke from the wildfires raging in Southern California aren't just destroying homes and lives, they're a serious health risk, as well.
The smoke can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs and can cause coughing, wheezing or breathing problems, according to the American Thoracic Society.
The smoke can be especially dangerous to those with lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis, the organization said. It's also harmful to people with heart disease, pregnant women, seniors and children.
People in those high-risk groups should ask their doctor about specific precautions, the society advised.
For the general population, suggested actions to gain protections from the wildfire smoke include:
To help reduce inhalation of airborne particles, the organization suggests a properly fitted mask rated at N95 or greater. A surgical or simple dust mask does not protect against these particles, and none of these masks protects against dangerous gases.
People with lung disease should consider evacuating to areas with better air quality, according to the organization. People with asthma should keep taking their maintenance or controller medications, or discuss an appropriate plan with their doctor.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on protection from wildfire smoke.
SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Dec. 11, 2017