Health effects of smoke exposure due to bushfires

With the recent devasting bushfires heavily impacting NSW and beyond, Doctors are warning even healthy people could develop serious illnesses. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has warned prolonged exposure to toxic smoke could affect the health of many Australians.

How does smoke in the air affect my health?
Smoke conditions that may affect your health is determined by a number of factors, such as the length of time you are exposed, how much air you breathe in, your current health status and the concentration of smoke in the air.

Who is most at risk from exposure to smoke?
Young children, the elderly, and people with heart or lung conditions, like asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and congestive heart failure are more sensitive to the adverse effects of exposure to smoke. People participating in sports or strenuous work outdoors may also be more susceptible, because they are breathing air deeply and rapidly. Risks increase when smoke becomes heavier and as the length of time a person is exposed increases.

What are the symptoms of smoke exposure?
Exposure to smoke can cause sore eyes, tears, cough and a runny nose. If the smoke lasts days to weeks or is very heavy, it can cause lung problems and a longer-lasting cough. Exposure to smoke can also make heart and lung conditions worse.

What should I do if I’m concerned about smoke?
Limit outdoor activities, especially if it makes you tired or short of breath.
Stay inside and keep windows and doors closed. If you have an air conditioner set it to “re-circulate” and keep it running to help filter the air and keep you cool. If you do not have air conditioning, if possible, try spending some time in an air conditioned place (such as a shopping mall or library) to cool off.
Keep a close watch on at risk individuals, particularly those who live alone. Young children, elderly people and individuals with chronic conditions may be more sensitive to heat or smoke.
Keep windows closed while in vehicles
Avoid cigarette smoke.

People with heart or lung conditions, including asthma, can also do the following:
Carefully monitor your condition and continue to take the specified medication you have been prescribed by your healthcare professional. Ensure that you have at least one week’s supply of medication available.
Please discuss with your GP if you have any concerns about your health.

When should I seek medical care?
If you or someone you know experiences any of the following symptoms it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible:

  • A cough that is persistent or worsening;
  • Shortness of breath, beyond what is usually experienced;
  • Chest pain or tightness; or
  • Significant weakness or fatigue.

If you have any concerns that your health may be affected by the recent bushfire smoke or if you are suffering any other symptoms i.e. dehydration, heat exhaustion etc please contact your GP immediately.
Stay safe, keep cool and try to avoid the smoke as much as possible.

Providence Medical has 6 convenient locations offering a fresh approach to your health care:

Providence Medical Warners Bay

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472 The Esplanade, Warners Bay NSW 2282

Providence Medical Belmont

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Shop 3-6, Belmont Central Shopping Centre, 1 Singleton St, Belmont NSW 2290

Providence Medical Thornton

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Thornton Healthcare Complex, 2 Poynton Place, Thornton

Providence Medical Gregory Hills

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SOMA Wellness Centre, 7 Gregory Hills Drive, Gledswood Hills NSW 2557

Providence Medical Shoal Bay & Anna Bay

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5 Government Rd, Shoal Bay NSW 2315
125 Gan Gan Road, Anna Bay, NSW 2316