Whether you call the Northeastern United States home or are just active on social media, you probably know about smog. Cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore are currently filled with thick smoke, a sepia byproduct of the rampant wildfires currently affecting Canada. For residents, the affected air quality (measured as of Wednesday .5 times the World Health Organization air quality guidance) is causing Stressful situations – including some severe headaches.
“If you are experiencing stress, especially new stress from the air quality where you live, any new headaches are likely to be caused by stress
and inhaling smoke from wildfires,” said Doug Laher, chief operating officer of the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC), pointing to increased heart rate and increased blood pressure that team up to increase the likelihood of headaches. Indoor air quality expert Michael Rubino added: “Current levels of smoke and unprecedented levels of airborne particulate matter are toxic and can make even the healthiest people sick.” Exposure to poor air quality can lead to sinus inflammation and Oxidative stress, both of which can lead to headaches.
Air quality levels are largely determined by the presence of PM, or particulate matter, airborne particles small enough to be inhaled, bypass our body’s self-defense mechanisms, and enter our bloodstream. According to the EPA, these particles are classified as PM, particles with a diameter of about microns or smaller, and PM2. 5. Fine particles with a diameter of about 2.5 microns or less. Combined with the chemicals in wildfire smoke (such as aldehydes, acid gases, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, etc.), symptoms such as coughing, scratchy throat, shortness of breath, and headaches become a natural response.
So what do we do about it? “Staying indoors is the best way to help protect our system from smoke pollution from wildfires and an AQI higher than 150,” Rubino said. “Wear an N14 mask when going out for any reason to minimize exposure to airborne particles.” Carrying medication or inhalers is for those with respiratory illnesses As an essential next step, wearing long-sleeved clothing (as temperatures permit) can help limit skin-to-skin contact.