Bonfire causes asthma attack be aware!

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Woody girl

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Mar 31, 2018
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Yesterday the weather was misty drizzly and still in my vally. Somebody lit a massive bonfire with lots of wet foliage making it very very smokey and it covered the whole area in choking acrid smoke that hung low over the area as there was no wind.
A thoughtless act. I had to go and refill my milk bottles at the greengrocer and within a few minutes of being outside I was sneezing continually and had streaming eyes and was finding it hard to breathe.
After I got home my throat hurt and I was beginning to weeze badly. I am asthmatic and it realy came on fast.
I ended up having to call for medical aid as it was getting so bad in the early hours of the morning.It takes at least 20 mins for an ambulance to arrive and 20 mins to get to hospital. Not a good outlook with an attack like this.
I had our local fire brigade first responders set me up on oxygen and the doc arrived with a venolin machine thingy ... nebuliser. ... to help me breath. I even had to have a shot of adrenaline as my heart wasn't coping well. It was very scary! I thought I might die.
I'm home now and ok if weak and still a bit weezy.
Please be aware this bonfire night of atmospheric conditions that might affect children or others with asthma .
I have not had a problem before but was told by the firemen it was probably caused by the massive bonfire being burned in totaly unsuitable atmospheric conditions. They had been called out a few hours earlier to someone else nearby with the same problem.
Luckily I'm still here to tell the tale, but it could have been very different. People die every year from attacks like mine and it becomes more prevalent around bonfire night. Fireworks too can cause problems for asthmatics.
That said I wish all that are having a bonfire night celebration a happy and safe evening.... I will be staying inside!
 
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Wildgoose

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May 15, 2012
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Glad the outcome was positive, must have been very scary.

my new neighbours frequently burn wet foliage, wrecked our summer as we couldn’t hang out clothes and had to have all the windows closed.
Luckily no medical emergencies but unpleasant all the same.
 
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Woody girl

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Thanks. The guy literally created a smog. It wasn't fun trying to get to the hospital with a storm raging either.
My thanks go to them and all the medical staff and the first responders for saving my life... literally. If I'd left calling for help much longer I wouldn't be posting this today. As you say a scary experience which to be honest I thought I wasn't going to survive. But I did. I'm a bit shakey and very tired now.. but alive!
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Irresponsible to lit a large fire in a storm. Maybe good thing, after all, the stuff was wet, imagine if it was dry and the burning debris started blowing all around!

Good you get well!
 

Woody girl

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Janne he didn't light the bonfire in a storm. Read the beginning of what I said which clearly described the weather conditions . theven storm came later in the small hours of the morning when I was being ferried to hospital.
I'm still not breathing quite properly, and coughing a great deal so it looks like I now have developed a bronchial infection.
So I'm now stuck in bed for now. Not great especially as I was due for my flu and bronchitis jab this week. I'm not allowed to have it till I'm better .
Bored and miserable can't get out so I'm having to pluck my nails and paint my eyebrows :) :)
 

Paul_B

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Take your time to recover properly. Not worth rushing it if you've had asthma attack even half as bad. Get well soon.

I've noticed my cough has been worse lately. I'm pretty much on permanent loratidine for allergies this time of year. I've finally had to give in to salbutamol puff last night. It makes me wonder why it's like this at this time of year. Smoke from bonfires isn't the only component.
 

Woody girl

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I think it is something to do with the change in weather conditions. Lower pressure keeps pollution closer to the ground and therefore we are breathing it in more. Just a guess.
I'm lucky to live in pretty clean air though I do sometimes notice the car pollution. Probably because I'm used to such clean air.
Years ago I had regular serious asthma attacks living in a town. After I moved here they slowly became less frequent.
This is the first major attack in more than ten years. All caused by a nasty bonfire lit in the wrong weather conditions. If it had been a dry bonfire and there had been a wind to blow the smoke away instead of letting it hang about and fill the vally with smoke, things would have been different altogether.... and a simple trip to get milk would not have ended up for me the way it did. Missed the astro party too! Was looking forward to that.
 

Paul_B

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Must admit I've lived 40+ years without any asthma symptoms. A few years back I had an attack overnight. Doc gave me salbutamol and said it was asthma. This year in spring I had a bad spell so went to doctor for treatment review. He said I hadn't been diagnosed for it so salbutamol was the only thing I could get. So a month of up to 10 double puff doses before it calmed down.

I think my "asthma" only started a couple of years into cycle commuting. Cycling is supposedly less bad for you than cars or public transport. So surely that's not it.
 

Janne

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Ah yes, you did write 'no wind'.
Yes, certain weather conditions almost make a 'lid' so bad air can not get away.
Anyway, stay in bed, read a book, and think what you will do when you recover!
(I too get bored to death lying in bed...)
 

Woody girl

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Must admit I've lived 40+ years without any asthma symptoms. A few years back I had an attack overnight. Doc gave me salbutamol and said it was asthma. This year in spring I had a bad spell so went to doctor for treatment review. He said I hadn't been diagnosed for it so salbutamol was the only thing I could get. So a month of up to 10 double puff doses before it calmed down.

I think my "asthma" only started a couple of years into cycle commuting. Cycling is supposedly less bad for you than cars or public transport. So surely that's not it.
Well actually I think there could be a link with the cycling. You are breathing in all those car fumes with no filter of any sort. In a car you are largely shielded from breathing in exhaust fumes by the car itself.
I know it might look daft but some sort of mask might be a help. No idea what as im not a cyclist. Better looking daft than wrecking your lungs with exhaust fumes.
 

Woody girl

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Just had a Google and there seem to be several cycling anti pollution masks available.. look quite cool too!
 

Paul_B

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Well actually I think there could be a link with the cycling. You are breathing in all those car fumes with no filter of any sort. In a car you are largely shielded from breathing in exhaust fumes by the car itself.
I know it might look daft but some sort of mask might be a help. No idea what as im not a cyclist. Better looking daft than wrecking your lungs with exhaust fumes.
It might seem counterintuitive but cycling is the healthiest mode of transport in pollution. Apparently tests have proven repeatedly that pollution doesn't get stopped by filters but builds up inside the car such that it can be at higher levels than outside.

Cycling does involve deeper breathing due to exertion but it means the air cycles more. It doesn't increase the concentration of particles. Plus the positives of physical exercise increase the overall healthier status of that mode of transport. Walking is the next healthiest but slower pace means longer exposed to pollution.

Buses and even trains are worse than cycling and walking. Basically cars are big metal coffins taking your life away a little at a time.

The issue is pm10s and especially pm2.5s particles. These are fine and super fine particles but it's also the gas pollutants that are the issues.

As to masks, anyone who is exerting themselves cycling will experience a hot, sweaty mask. Plus the restriction in the air being exhaled will be rl equivalent to resistance workout for the lungs. In fact the only masks capable of enough air throughout would be heavy with two big filter units like highly rated industrial masks have. Unfeasible really.

I've thought of them but reviews and comments on cycling fora put me off.
 

Paul_B

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You do see cyclists wearing masks but has anyone seen a car occupant with one on? Like with cycling helmets, you're more likely to need them in cars or as a pedestrian. Well they're more likely to provide benefits if your in a car or on foot.
 

Robson Valley

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One legal requirement here in harvesting (aka logging) is to tidy up the site
into 20' - 30' tall debris piles which sit to dry for several years and then must be burned.

Clearly(?), it is tough to predict good weather conditions (winds and humidity) for the burn, no, not wet.
Thermal inversions chill the smoke and it's like driving through a wall.
Your report reads like the burner is a complete novice.
When you live where the smoke becomes so obvious, the thermal inversions for the rest of the year can't be helping you, either.

I'm in the city at the moment. Most of it is in a junction valley for 2 big rivers.
It stinks and the thermal inversions are profound.
Some places are so bad that open round-wood fires of any kind have been banned.
 

santaman2000

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“Asthma” has become so broadly defined nowadays that what triggers one person might easily differ from another person. Exertion is often a trigger for some (bicycling, etc.) Damp weather for so e while for others dry conditions do it.
 

Woody girl

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When I went to sweden a few January's ago, I was very worried that the extreme cold would present me with breathing difficulties as we were in the middle of nowhere with several hours journey to a hospital. when I was younger cold weather was always a big trigger. Funnily enough I had no problems at all. Barely used my inhaler any more than usual. And my travel nebuliser is still unused. So much so I couldn't find it when I needed it the other day.
UK winter is cold and damp. Sweden was cold and dry. So yes in my experience damp has something to do with it.
Very odd!
 
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Paul_B

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I think mine is allergic in cause. I've had hayfever and dust allergies since a kid. Nothing too bad. In fact it eased off a lot. About 5 years ago I started to get a persistent cough. 2 or 3 years later I got it checked out after the very tight chest. Asthma was the diagnosis, then a year later I was even worse so went back only to be told it wasn't a diagnosis. More like a fob off.
 

santaman2000

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I think mine is allergic in cause. I've had hayfever and dust allergies since a kid. Nothing too bad. In fact it eased off a lot. About 5 years ago I started to get a persistent cough. 2 or 3 years later I got it checked out after the very tight chest. Asthma was the diagnosis, then a year later I was even worse so went back only to be told it wasn't a diagnosis. More like a fob off.
I almost “liked” this post but then I realized that wasn’t really the sentiment I wanted to present. Rather an understanding sympathy for the frustration with inconclusive diagnoses. They really suck.
 

Paul_B

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I've been at the same surgery for 20+ years. They know me and I've outlasted a few GPs too. The receptionist even says hello when I bump into her occasionally. However they still see me as a fit, healthy Male who can't have anything wrong with me. Ever!

A year or so ago I found out they do health checks for the over 45, having just passed it I thought why not. Nurse visit with an NHS program to give her the questions to ask. A series of tabs to work through before a blood test. First tab, "do you smoke? " the answer negative closed off all other questions. Next tab, do you drink. Answer then was perhaps two beers a month. Next tab and so on. A 20 to 30 minute appointment was over in 10 minutes. Most of that was the nurse getting the bits together for a blood test.

Result was to be given by the receptionist 2 weeks later. Wasn't ready for 3 weeks. The receptionist gave me the results, "everything ok". Ok, what were the results I asked and she said they were about what they should be for your age. A real battle to find out the numbers. Shouldn't results be explained? The cholesterol was high, what does that mean?

Put simply a right shower! However with only two GP surgeries in the town and the other one is worse, well I'm stuck with them. They're friendly though so at least it's pleasant getting poor gp service.

Seriously not that bad. They're gatekeepers and there is a bad habit for treating men less seriously than women in medical circles I believe. Or at least it's proven women find it easier to access medical treatment than men. Bias in the profession.

Rant over, sorry.
 

santaman2000

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Yes, the results should be explained. My doctor orders a full panel (diabetic, over age 50) every 3 months and goes over the results at my quarterly appointment with him and I leave with a copy of them. Including
Cholesterol
Blood glucose
Kidney function
Liver function
and several others I can’t remember off hand