The hazy skies, the smell of smoke, and even the rain of ash –
it’s becoming a summer phenomenon in the West that is more normal than not.
Wildfire season isn’t so much about if it will happen, but when and for how long.  With drier climates and higher temperatures not only are we witnessing devastating environmental disasters but we are also experiencing dangerous health effects in response.

Whether burning here in Colorado or all the way from California, our air can be filled with toxins, chemicals, particles, and smoke in the atmosphere we breathe and can lead to both short- and long-term issues.

Common, short-term effects of wildfire smoke include, but are not limited to:


– sinus congestion
– cough
– irritated nasal passages
– headache
– burning eyes
– sinus infection

– asthma attacks


and long-term issues such as:
– lung inflammation
– Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

– heart disease


have been shown to occur.  These effects may even lead to early death.
But if we can’t escape wildfire smoke, how can we stay healthy while living amongst it?
Here are 4 Essential Ways to Weather Wildfire Smoke:

1. Be Aware of Your Air Quality.

More than just viewing a few second clip on the local news (although, that is a good start!) – checking the air quality of where you specifically live, work, and play can be vital for your and your family’s health.
Resources I regularly use are:
Note that some apps (such as AirVisual) will allow you to set your own alert preferences such as when air quality is poor as well as for when it is improving (helpful in knowing when it’s a good time to walk the dog or go for a bike ride or run for example!).
On a side note…air quality can shift at any given moment depending on wind conditions.  This means that what is forecasted may change without much notice so stay on top of it!
2. Protect Your Indoor Air Quality.
Keep your indoor air as pure as possible when the outdoors is filled with toxins and particles.
You can do this by:
– closing windows
– using air conditioning
– turning on a forced air fan without the furnace running so air goes through a filter (remember to change filters frequently!)
– utilizing an air purifier (ensure the purifier is appropriate for the size of space, has a HEPA filter, and states the size of particulate it can filter out)
– turning your car’s airflow to recirculate
and remember that house plants can even help purify the air so plant up!
3. Protect Yourself When Outside.
Determine whether you – as well as family members – react normal to wildfire smoke (with mild symptoms) or if you are in a sensitive group (severe symptoms and/or chronic conditions such asthma, lung, or heart disease) and prepare from there.
When air quality index in your area is less than 150, it can be harmful to sensitive groups.  If it is between 150-200 (or even more), it is typically not healthy for the general public.
Wearing an N95 or a KN95 mask can help filter out particles in the air (an everyday mask will not unless it has an actual filter rated for PM2.5)
4. Stay Hydrated.
Breathing in dirty air can cause clogging – in our sinuses, lungs, and bodies as a whole.  Staying well-hydrated can help produce mucus to clear out the chemicals and particles we breathe in as well as eliminate them efficiently.
You can do this by:
– using a neti pot kit to rinse out nasal passages daily
– drinking teas such as Breathe Easy® by Traditional Medicinals and Breathe Deep® by Yogi
as well as consuming plenty of water throughout the day.
Wildfires, unfortunately, may be more of a frequent occurrence than we’d like.  And with that comes pollutants and particles that can wreak havoc on our health.
Staying mindful of your air quality outdoors and indoors, safeguarding you and your family when breathing in poor air, and keeping everyone hydrated can make a difference in how we react to this environmental event.
For additional naturopathic support in dealing with wildfire smoke or other health issues such as pain, hormonal imbalance, sleep issues, digestive upset, and/or chronic stress in the Boulder or Denver metro area, please call me at (720) 340-0193 or contact me here.