SALT LAKE COUNTY - On Monday afternoon the air quality in Salt Lake County reached a red level, unhealthy for all groups.
“When we go from good air to bad air, we’re probably increasing the rate of heart attacks from 4 to 10 percent,” said Dr. Robert Paine, a pulmonary and critical care physician at the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City.
The jump in heart attack rates applies to people with pre-existing conditions. Many more people suffer minor irritations like a sore throat, dry eyes or irritated nose.
“I just feel like I really need to cough a lot and really hard,” said Trevor Allen of West Valley City.
If you are feeling some of these symptoms there are things you can do to feel better.
“I think humidity helps, humidifying your home actually helps with that sense of scratchiness in your chest and there are over the counter medications to help with sinus congestion,” said Dr. Paine.
In home humidifiers and nasal saline sprays can both help. However, over the counter anti-histamines can both help or hurt depending on the person.
“One of the challenges some of the medications that we use for your nose and sinuses, they actually dry you out. As you dry out, you have more problems with the particulate pollution,” said Dr. Paine.
Every person experiences the impacts of bad air quality in different ways.
“You need to listen to your body. If you are starting to have problems, seek medical attention,” said Dr. Paine.
Some major warning signs, according to Dr. Paine, are shortness of breath or chest pains.
To check the hourly air quality levels in all of Utah’s counties, you can go to http://air.utah.gov/