Fireworks and Asthma
So, it's that time of year again - time to celebrate Independence Day in the U.S. That means BBQ's, parades, and fireworks!
It's red, white & blue shirts, hats, sunglasses, and lots of American flags.
I love all of it - except fireworks
Well, when you have asthma, fireworks can make it very hard to breathe. Fireworks have lots of smoke - which can get down deep into your lungs. In fact, it can be VERY dangerous for some people. It can be so dangerous, that you can end up in the hospital. My middle son was 8 years old when he ended up in ICU because he was outside watching fireworks. Too much smoke led to a very scary 3 day stay. I will never forget it.
Is that unusual? A TIME magazine article says:1
"Extended exposure to particulate matter can lead to coughing, wheezing and even lead to an early death for people with pre-existing conditions like heart or lung disease, according to the EPA."
Dealing with post-fireworks asthma symptoms
It's not just my middle son that has problems with asthma. My older son, daughter, and I all have asthma, and also have a tough time each year with fireworks. And since it takes a while to get the smoke out of the sky, we have problems with our asthma for days and days afterwards (unless it happens to rain - which is rare in the summer for us).
Did you know that air quality takes a nosedive on the 4th of July? The same TIME article says:1
"Avoiding firework pollution can be difficult, if not impossible, health experts say. People in the immediate vicinity of fireworks will experience the most pollution. From there, the particles will disperse throughout the area, hardly leaving any place untouched. People sitting downwind from the fireworks will receive the brunt of pollution, says Joel Schwartz, a professor of environmental epidemiology at Harvard University."
What do you do about fireworks if you have asthma?
You don't want to be left out of all the oohing and ahhing! It really is amazing to watch the fireworks against the night sky. We usually just watch the aerial fireworks from a city celebration quite a ways away from us. We found the perfect spot on a hillside where we can safely watch the fireworks from a couple of miles away.
However, we moved into a new neighborhood, and we just had an awkward moment when the neighbors were excitedly telling us about their annual Independence Day BBQ and parade - which ends with a "Cul de sac of fire" at night. They told us that all the neighbors pitch in to buy fireworks and then shoot them off in a spectacular display. Oh.
"How nice," I say (while I'm thinking that we are going to be watching the fireworks from INSIDE our house that night).
It doesn't hurt to be careful
Some people like to watch the fireworks from inside their house, while others swear by an N95 or N99 air pollution masks. Those masks are made to filter out the tiny particles. I don't have one, but some of my friends do and say the mask really helps their asthma when there is bad air quality. Do your research and see what's right for you.
So, Independence Day is just around the corner. Make sure you are safe - whether that means ducking inside the house during fireworks, or wearing a specially made mask. You may want to make sure your nebulizer is handy - just in case.
Anyone else with asthma have a tough time with the smoke from fireworks?
How does your asthma change with the seasons?