HEALTH

Utah doctors report rise in breathing problems likely due to smoky skies

Aug 9, 2021, 6:07 PM | Updated: 6:12 pm
utah smoky skies...
(Smoky skies above the Utah State Capitol Complex on Friday, August 6, 2021. Photo, Paul Nelson)
(Smoky skies above the Utah State Capitol Complex on Friday, August 6, 2021. Photo, Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – Doctors are reporting an uptick in the number of people coming in with respiratory problems likely due to the smoky skies in Utah. They believe the number of people with respiratory issues will likely increase over the next couple of weeks. 

According to Utah doctors, there is a lag when it comes to bad air pollution days and when people start to report breathing problems. Intermountain Healthcare Pulmonary Physician Denitza Blagev said this lag could span anywhere from several days to a few weeks since many people assume they’ll get better on their own.

However, she’s already seeing patients come into her clinic because of the smoky skies in Utah.

Blagev said, “All my patients in the clinic [Monday] morning were reporting symptoms related to the air pollution, ranging from shortness of breath, cough or chest tightness.”

She acknowledged there may be a specific reason why so many cases have come in. Blagev reported since the air was so notably dirty on Friday and Saturday, more people are likely to identify those days as when their symptoms started.

Blagev said, “Even people who don’t have an underlying lung disease are reporting symptoms, as well.”

It’s hard to predict exactly how many patients will come in for pollution-related sickness. Blagev said researchers will have to collect the data over the next few weeks and compare it to other years. 

Meanwhile, she said the pollution could be especially harmful to people who already had COVID-19 and who are already dealing with other respiratory problems.

“Those patients are at increased risk of having respiratory symptoms with air pollution now that they may not have been bothered by, previously,” according to Blagev.

She said people ask her if they should cancel their outdoor activities because of the smoky skies. Blagev believes people should look at the air quality index, and if the air is expected to be dirty, they should rethink their outdoor plans.

Blagev said, “If we’re really in the red zone, then definitely.”

Today’s Top Stories

Health

Omicron variant Photo: Canva...
Becky Bruce

Omicron variant of COVID-19 detected in first Utah patient

Utah health officials confirmed the state's first patient to test positive for the omicron variant of COVID-19 Friday. 
19 hours ago
(Dr. Deborah Bilder, left, and Dr. Amanda Bakian, right, speaking during a press conference on auti...
Paul Nelson

Doctors find autism rates among Utah children higher than previously thought

New data authored by researchers at the University of Utah shows there are far more children on the autism spectrum than previously thought.  Researchers say improvements in testing and diagnosing autism could be one reason for the increase.
2 days ago
omicron variant of covid detected in colorado...
Becky Bruce

Omicron variant of COVID-19 detected in Colorado

The governor of Colorado confirmed that state's first patient to be diagnosed with the omicron variant of COVID-19. She recently traveled to South Africa.
2 days ago
Omicron variant Photo: Canva...
Eliza Craig

Omicron variant confirmed in Minnesota

Health Officials in Minnesota have just confirmed a positive case of the omicron variant a day after confirmed case in California.
2 days ago
distemper virus...
Kelsey Earl

Humane Society of Utah warns of the canine distemper virus

Local animal officials are warning the public to vaccinate their puppies and avoid wildlife after seeing a rise in the canine distemper virus.
3 days ago
utah staffing shortages...
Paul Nelson

Staffing shortage at Utah State Hospital reaches ‘critical state’

Officials say that the staffing shortage at Utah State Hospital is most strongly felt in the area of direct care positions.
3 days ago
Utah doctors report rise in breathing problems likely due to smoky skies