IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Smoke from wildfires in the central mountain area is affecting peoples' health miles and miles away in eastern Idaho.
Anyone could experience some allergy-like symptoms, but people who have a history of asthma or allergies have probably already realized that things could get bad.
Whether you're coughing, have a stuffy nose, or your contact lenses won't stop bothering you, nurse practitioner Brian Decker knows just how miserable those smoke-induced symptoms can be. He says that when the smoke rolls in, so do the patients.
"Anytime there are small particles in the air and a person breathes that into their lungs, their body develops an inflammatory response," Decker said. "It puts out chemicals that try to fix the problem."
Those chemicals are called histamines, which manifest themselves as allergies and asthma.
"Histamines cause increased bloodflow and fluid leaks out of the capillaries causing inflammation, runny nose, chest congestion, tightness," Decker explained. "That inflammatory response also can close down the bronchial tubes -- the breathing tubes in our lungs.
While rescue inhalers or over-the-counter allergy medications might be a good fix, Decker says that professional diagnosis is always the safest option.
"You need to be checked out," Decker said. "And the person checking you and deciding what medicine is going to work is going to help you make that decision. Is it bacterial, and are antibiotics worthwhile? Or is it better to treat it with anti allergy medication, that will decrease those chemicals and help you feel better?"
As far as at home treatment goes, Decker says staying home is the best treatment.
"When the air's thick and you can't see the blue of the sky, that's probably a good reason to stay in," Decker said.
Decker says that if you're having so much trouble breathing to the point where you can barely take air into your lungs, you're urged to head to the emergency room.