A moment to breath...
Articles on acupuncture, health, life, and some actionable steps we can take...
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are beginning to realize that our beautiful region has a new reality- wildfire smoke is our new norm.
Wildfires are increasing in quantity and severity during dry season, and for the past few summers, our air quality has been taking a hit. You can view a map of air quality here: -click here-.
The biggest issue with breathing wildfire smoke is the particulate matter- tiny particles that can aggravate the lungs and go directly into our bloodstream. Here is an excellent article that goes into detail on the types of particles and at what point they can cause health issues: -click here-.
In the clinic, whenever we have days on end of poor quality air from these wildfires, I notice my migraine patients have flare-ups, sometimes preventing them from even coming in. I have had adult patients who have never had migraines previously come in with migraines on these days! So what's going on?
I haven't found any research on the connection yet, but it makes sense that if wildfire smoke aggravates lung conditions and heart conditions, and that these particulates can go directly into the bloodstream (bypassing filtration in the lungs), that they can aggravate any inflammation in the body, especially related to blood circulation issues. Particles that tiny could even cross the blood-brain barrier and aggravate central nervous system lesions or injuries (I'm thinking of MS or Alzheimer's). Neurological issues like neuropathy in hands or feet could worsen as well.
UPDATE: I have recently seen air quality warnings not only mention lung and cardiac issues as being concerns with wildfire smoke, but also diabetes. Again, blood circulation issues (build up of sugar crystals depositing in tissues will be worsened with particulate matter entering the bloodstream and also depositing in tissues).
Migraines can usually be stopped by increasing blood circulation to the brain, or by increasing oxygen in the blood stream. It is frequently connected to vasculature, and so when these particulates are aggravating tissues and depositing in places and causing swelling (like it is in the lungs)... then it could do the same to the brain.
What can be done? Here are some helpful suggestions from the Department of Health in Washington: -click here-.
-stay indoors where you have filtered air
-certainly don't go exerting yourself outside
-drink plenty of water (flush the crud out!)
-consult your healthcare provider about using an N95 ventilator (can find at hardware store or on Amazon)
Please note that even a wet handkerchief or those medical masks won't help. The only sort of mask that will block these particles is a well-fitting, sealed, N95 mask. These masks can block out 95% of the particulate matter, but the masks are not for everyone. It is more difficult to breath through an N95 mask, which might be a very bad idea if you have, say, COPD. Better then to just stay indoors where you have filtered air.