What does the haze mean for your health?

Nov. 7, 2016: The state has issued a Code Red Air Quality Alert for Tuesday in areas around Knoxville and the Smoky Mountains.

KNOXVILLE - As wildfires burn across the region, smoke blankets East Tennessee. It’s created a hazy atmosphere, but what does it mean for our health?

"You can see and smell the smoke like you are standing next to a fire,” described Dr. Bob Overholt. “I've never seen it this quick, this fast, this bad.”

For people who suffer from allergies and asthma, the thick haze is especially dangerous.

"It’s a terrible time for them to be outside,” said Overholt. “If you’ve got an allergy, heart disease, lung disease, young and old this is the time to stay inside stay in the air conditioning.”

RELATED: Hazy conditions settle in due to East Tennessee wildfires

The smoke can even have impacts on healthy people.

"If you're healthy you can go outside, you want to respect it though, you don't want to do any prolonged activity, so don't go out for a jog anybody,” said Overholt.

However, many people work jobs that require being outdoors daily. Overholt said if that’s the case, still take precautions.

"Put a mask over the face, a respirator, you can get those at any drugstore or pharmacy," he said.

If you’re just planning on traveling back and forth in your car, you can be even more careful by selecting the internal air circuit that will keep air flowing inside the car and not bringing in outside air.

These warnings might be coming too late for some readers, but don’t worry, if you’re feeling those red eyes and stuffy nose, Dr. Bob has the cure.

Not all “allergy” medicines work for these symptoms.

"The simple antihistamines are not going to do what we want them to do, they only stop itching and sneezing of the allergic reaction, this is a secondary reaction, so we have to use medicines against inflammation," he said. "You can use eye drops, tear drops you can use salt water spray for the nose and Flonase to take care of inflammation, drink lots and lots of water, you can't underestimate the effects hydration has."

Remember to also take in pets, they can suffer from allergies, runny nose and shortness of breath from the poor quality air just like we do.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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