Smoke Inhalation, its effects and treatments

June 7, 2023

Smoke from the Quebec wildfires continues to travel across the province. With an air quality advisory currently in effect due to the pollution, residents are encouraged to stay indoors and wear a mask if travelling outside.

With the added smoke in the air, brings health concerns. Long term repeated exposure to smoke may accelerate respiratory issues, cardiovascular disease and progression of atherosclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels)

With all this smoke in the air, here are some common effects of smoke exposure that you should watch out for:

  • Inflammation.
  • Cilia damage – tiny hairs (cilia) that line your throat and help sweep mucus and particles up and out of your throat like a broom.
  • Decreased lung capacity – you have a smaller total volume of air that your lungs can hold.
  • Airway hyper-responsiveness – that feeling when your lungs and airway are easily irritated leading to a shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and/or consistent cough.

As part of the common effects listed above, here are the symptoms that people tend to experience:

  • Congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness 
  • Cough
  • Wheeze
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tension
  • Malaise 
  • Heartburn
  • Increased allergy symptoms

Here are the common treatment and prevention strategies:

  • Avoid exposure
    • Keep windows/doors closed
    • Stay indoors
    • Turn on air filters and purifiers in your home/car/workplace
    • Use the ‘recirculate air’ function in your vehicle if possible
  • Inhalers
  • Drink plenty of fluids – keeps your respiratory tract hydrated, decreases congestion.
  • Quercetin – antioxidant, commonly found in onions, garlic and supplemental form. Prevents acute lung injury after fine particle exposure.
  • Bromelain Enzyme – found in pineapples and supplemental form. Treats sinusitis and airway reactivity, reduces edema, increases wound healing.
  • Magnesium citrate – improves lung function.
  • IV therapy – improves lung tissue repair, decreases inflammation, improves antioxidant generation.


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