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Pollution From Wildfires Can Be Tough To Escape, Lead To Colds Doctors Say

SALT LAKE CITY – While many doctors expected it and prepared for it, the lingering pollution from a very active fire season is creating an influx of patients suffering from respiratory issues.
 
“Patients are definitely complaining that they can feel it,” Doctor Denitza Blagev, a pulmonologist at Intermountain Medical Center, said. “They get a lot more throat irritation, more cough, more chest tightness. People can definitely tell.”
 
Blagev said people in the more at-risk groups, like children, the elderly, and people with heart or lung conditions should especially avoid being out during high-pollution times. While it can cause tightness in the lungs, sore throat, or a cough, she said it can also lead to other problems.
 
“The pollution itself can cause symptoms like Asthma flare or something like that, but also the air pollution can predispose people to getting a cold.”
 
However, even if you don’t notice any problems, Blagev said the bad air can still hurt you.
 
“Being exposed to this over time, it increases our risk of developing things like asthma and chronic lung and heart disease,” Blagev said. 
 
Unlike the winter inversion, Blagev added that this summer pollution is tough to escape. Even in the mountains, it remains at least in some degree.
 
“It may be that the particulates are more concentrated lower than higher,” Blagev said. “But it’s not quite the same gradient that it is in the winter. The air is more mixed.”

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