Sep 18, 2012 9:03 PM by Dennis Bragg

Oxygen patients warned not to compensate for fire smoke

As fire smoke continues to blanket Western Montana, with no signs of stopping, breathing has become a real chore.

With no end to the smoky weather in sight people in Western Montana with respiratory problems are continuing to struggle. They might even be tempted to turn up the oxygen a little bit. But a respiratory therapist says that's the worse thing you can do.

"Don't change your oxygen levels," advises therapist Matt Hill. "It's an FDA drug. It's prescribed by your doctor and there's reasons for those prescriptions. In fact in many cases it's dangerous to change that prescription. So, if you're having trouble with shortness of breath, which can be involved because of the smoke, talk to your doctor. See if he wants to change your prescription and maybe it's warranted. But before doing anything talk to your doctor first."

At Partners in Home Care, the therapists are also reminding sleep apnea patients they can install filters on their machines if they're having problems breathing at night.

"You know if you're a CPAP patient out there and you don't use a filter on it, you might think about getting a filter just for while the smoke is here," says Hill. "It can actually filter out some of the harsher particles from the smoke and help make it a little easier for your."

But how about for the rest of us? Hill tells me outside of limiting your exposure outside, there are no magic bullets. The best bet is to know the warning signs and compensate your activity as needed.

"Some of the tiredness, some of the headaches, things like that could be related to the smoke. And just keep that in mind. You know it's not anything to panic about. But it is something just to be aware of, that you may be feeling a little under the weather because it's smoky and you're breathing that in."

And Hill advises you to see your doctor if the symptoms persist. You might be seeing the signs of a problem that could persist even after the smoke goes away.


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