Wildfires And Nose Washing
People living and working in wildfire areas are subjected to a high volume of airborne pollutants and can be subject to lethal health hazards. Short term exposure can result in irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, chest tightness, cough, and asthma flare ups.
Wildland firefighters are exposed to a multitude of toxic substances including carbon monoxide, irritating gases, breathable particles, as well as some unbreathable nanoparticles.
Those with underlying respiratory problems such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, COPD, chronic bronchitis, etc. are especially at risk. Children with these problems are at even greater risk.
The nose filters 10,000 liters of air per day and in such situations our nostrils are under enormous stress. Exposure to irritants causes swelling of the membranes and an increase in the daily average mucus production, impeding the normal flow of drainage. Exposure to these irritants results in thicker and even stickier mucus. This is an especially important time to tend the body’s filter.
We know that all sorts of filters – for the car, the clothes dryer, or the home air system work better if kept clean. Washing one’s personal filter, is as sensible as cleaning any machine filter — it helps the machine work more effectively.
The ancient practice of nasal washing is performed as a daily hygiene routine throughout much of the world. Our grandmothers knew that moisture in the nose makes sense. Ever sniffed salt water when you had a cold? Ever used a humidifier? How about that clean feeling after an ocean swim? Washing the nose uses a similar principle, but far more easily, effectively and comfortably.
Washing the nose with a pH balanced buffered hypertonic salt solution washes irritants out, shrinks swollen membranes, and thins secretions increasing the filtering efficiency of the nose hairs. This allows the tiny sinus opening to drain effectively and naturally, thus helping to prevent the usual results of exposure – congestion, sinus issues, post nasal drip and even bloody noses.
The recommendations of the American Lung Association: Protect Yourself From Lethal Wildfire Smoke - American Lung Association
Be Well, Dr Hana
Hana R. Solomon, M.D.
Author of Clearing the Air, One Nose at a Time: Caring for Your Personal Filter