SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A major health system is urging people to take precautions and protect their lungs as wildfires burn nationwide and air quality suffers across Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana.

Suman Sinha, Chief of Pulmonary Medicine for CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic in Shreveport, said that any sudden respiratory symptoms lasting longer than a few hours to a day need to be reported to healthcare professionals for intervention.

“Those symptoms include coughing, sneezing, teary eyes, runny nose, wheezing, chest tightness, chest pain, or shortness of breath,” said Sinha.

Patients with pre-existing lung disease or conditions including asthma and COPD and heart conditions with cardiovascular or coronary illness should limit their time outdoors to no more than a few minutes per day until air quality improves.

Sinha stressed that it is important to maintain compliance with your medical regimen and stay in properly air-conditioned facilities to ensure you breathe clean, filtered air. He asks those with no pre-existing respiratory issues or cardiac issues to limit time outdoors in areas affected by wildfires.

Limiting outdoor exercise until air quality improves can help prevent future health complications. According to Sinha, staying informed and checking air quality reports are the best ways to take proper precautions.

Air quality reports measure the effects of ground-level ozone and particle pollution, which is the greatest pollution threat to human health in the United States.

View current air quality reports by clicking here.

Millions of U.S. citizens are exposed to unhealthy air every year. The Air Quality Flag Program helps citizens protect their health by taking action. The program gives community members a vital role in air quality. Each day an organization raises a flag that corresponds to how clean or polluted the air is. The color of the flag matches EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI): green, yellow, orange, red, and purple.

Communities can use information from unhealthy days, to adjust physical activities to help reduce exposure to air pollution, while still keeping people active. A daily flag is raised to communicate the air quality forecast in communities.

To learn more about cardiac and lung health, visit CHRISTUS Health Systems.