Take a Breather: Help for Smoke Inhalation
“A house full, a hole full! And you cannot gather a bowl-full!”
In spite of Squirrel Nutkin's riddle,* the bowl of the Willamette Valley has been full of smoke nearly all summer. With the most unhealthy air quality in 25 years, even people who don't normally have respiratory problems are feeling the effects. Smoke is a complex blend of gases and fine particles produced by burning organic (as in carbon-containing) material. Even though it is "natural," wood smoke contains tiny particles and gases that can have serious health effects ranging from runny, scratchy eyes; runny nose; sore, scratchy throat; inflamed sinuses and headaches to more serious, life-threatening effects. It is especially dangerous for the very young, the very old and for people with allergies or respiratory conditions. When inhaled, smoke can cause the respiratory system to become irritated, swollen and even blocked. Bronchitis, asthma, damage to mucous membranes and other respiratory disorders may result from toxic exposure to smoke. Anyone having difficulty breathing should seek medical help right away.
Regular dust masks won't protect you from smoke inhalation. They only catch large particles, like sawdust, and won't keep damaging nano-sized particles out of your lungs. Using an N96 mask or a wet cloth over your nose and mouth would be better.
Herbs Etc. Lung Tonic
Lung Tonic is a terrific formula featuring many of the superstar herbs for respiratory health. It supports healthy lung function in general and provides long-term respiratory support for chronic and prolonged lung challenges. This herbal blend strengthens and opens up the respiratory passages, maximizes lung capacity and improves oxygen absorption. Use with ChlorOxygen for enhanced results.
Lung Tonic contains mullein leaf, horehound, elecampane root, grindelia flower, echinacea angustifolia root, pleurisy root, passionflower, osha, lobelia and yerba santa.
N-acetyl cysteine, (NAC for short), is a precursor to glutathione, the body's premier endogenous antioxidant molecule. By virtue of glutathione's detoxification of acetaldehyde and other toxins found in smoke, NAC has great potential benefit to smoke inhalers. NAC is a famously powerful mucolytic, breaking down and eliminating accumulated mucus from the lungs. In addition to facilitating breathing, toxins and germs threatening the lungs are also removed. People with various lung disorders such as bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema may derive great benefit here. For more information on NAC, see Get the NAC: N-Acetyl-Cysteine.
Homeopathic remedies can be helpful, too. They do not interact with prescription drugs and can be given to children and pets. Similasan's Irritated Eye Relief can soothe smoky eyes. Here are some other suggestions for remedies that may be helpful for a variety of symptoms of smoke inhalation:
Arsenicum: For smoke exposure with anxiety.
- Eyes burn and tear.
- Nose dry, burning and dripping, but feels stuffed up.
- Dry cough, worse at night and when lying on back.
- Scanty expectoration.
- Burning pains; burning sensation in chest.
- Air passages feel constricted.
- Wheezing; asthma, worse between midnight and 2 a.m.
- Restlessness and anxiety about the future.
Bryonia: For conditions made worse by motion; dryness of mucous membranes.
- Dry lips, mouth and mucous membranes with excessive thirst.
- Soreness/hoarseness in throat.
- Dry, hard, irritating and/or painful cough; worse with movement, warmth or at night.
- Lumpy, rusty-colored sputum. If coughing up blood, seek medical help immediately.
- Stitching, tearing pain.
- Headache worse from motion and better from applying pressure.
- Irritable and wanting to lie down, be quiet and left alone.
Carbo Vegetabilis: For shortness of breath and feeling oxygen deprived.
- Hoarseness, worse in the evening.
- Cough with itching in larynx and/or burning in chest.
- Sore, raw chest.
- Spasmodic cough.
- Severe acute attacks of wheezing with significant belching, gas and bloating.
- May be a bluish cast to the face and/or body.
- Loss of vitality and may feel faint.
- Wanting to be fanned hard or needing fresh air.
Euphrasia: For simple smoke exposure with irritation to eyes and nose.
- Eyes are irritated, they tear and burn with profuse, acrid tearing.
- Eyes sensitive to light; tear when coughing.
- Eye lids burn, are red, swollen and/or sensitive.
- Nose runs but doesn’t burn.
- Spasmodic, dry cough with asthma.
- Slight cough with mucus during the day.
- Breathing oppressed.
- Better in the open air.
Ignatia: For those who are depressed, moody, nervous or apprehensive; when the emotional element is prominent.
- Spasmodic, tickling in throat; windpipe may feel painful.
- Dry, spasmodic cough, may be worse in the evening.
- The more you cough, the more you need to cough.
- Scant expectoration.
- Pressure or tightness in chest, sense of lump in throat.
- Especially indicated when disappointment, loss or upset accompanies smoke inhalation.
Kali bichromicum: For serious smoke exposure with irritated sinuses and/or lungs. NOTE: For serious smoke exposure seek medical help right away.
- Sore, raw larynx; hoarseness worse in the evening.
- Constant need to clear the throat.
- Tickling sensation in larynx and/or chest.
- Nose is blocked and feels dry; may have loss of the sense of smell.
- Nasal discharge is dry or sticky/stringy.
- Sinus pressure at root of nose and cheeks; sinuses are sore, raw, irritated and painful.
- Hacking, painful cough with sticky, stringy, yellowish-green expectoration.
- Hard to expell mucus and it is scanty, sticky or stringy.
- Dry, barking cough; chest is sore.
- Wheezing and shortness of breath.
- Splinter-like pains.
Silica: For helping the body to expel inhaled particles.
- Nose dry and stuffy, no sense of smell or taste.
- Sinuses painful and stuffed up.
- Cough and sore throat with expectoration of small "granules."
- Dry, irritating cough from inhaled particles, with thick, lumpy, yellow mucus.
- Violent cough when lying down.
- Sensation of something (dust or a hair) stuck in the back of the throat.
*From The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter
NASA Earth Observatory image showing wildfires in September 2009 from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/...
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