B.C. sees 25% jump in inhaler use from wildfire smoke

Weekly increases saw thousands of people with breathing problems reach for their puffers during air quality advisories

Smoky skies across the province have caused breathing issues for many residents, leading to a 25 per cent increase in the amount of people seeking inhalers in recent weeks, according to the Ministry of Health.

The most recent data examines the week of August 13-19, 2018 and compares it against the previous four weeks, which saw an average of 15,781 prescriptions written each week. But for the week of Aug. 13-19, that jumped to 19,710 prescriptions.

Inhaler Prescriptions in B.C. July 16-Aug 12 vs Aug 13- Aug 19, 2018
Infogram

Northern B.C. was the most heavily affected area of the province, seeing a 42 per cent increase or more than 400 additional prescriptions written for inhalers.

The Interior of the province saw 1,500 more inhalers prescribed, or a 37 per cent increase, and Vancouver Island jumped 15 per cent increase, with over 400 more prescriptions.

Smoky skies have cause breathing problems for many people in B.C., causing a 25 per cent increase in inhaler prescriptions. File photo

RELATED: B.C. wildfire season now second worst in province’s history

“Wildfire smoke can have a negative impact on people who have asthma and other respiratory illnesses, children, pregnant women and the elderly,” said Stephen May, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health via email. “For most people, sheltering-in-place (a clean indoor air environment in their homes or indoor community facilities) is a reliable way to reduce their exposure to smoke.”

ALSO READ: A look at B.C. wildfire smoke from space

May added that staying indoors isn’t always an option for people who need to evacuate their homes, and adds that if people do self-evacuate, they can go to their nearest reception centre and register with Emergency Social Services.

He also added that for minor, non-emergency symptoms like eye, nose and throat irritation, people can call 811 or visit HealthlinkBC.ca .

Anyone with severe breathing problems or cardiovascular distress are asked to call 911.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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