Jun. 9—ANDERSON — For some, coughing can be a mere nuisance. For asthma sufferers, it can disrupt daily life.

Alexandria resident Bruce Sayre's asthma kept him from his daughter Jordyn's softball game Wednesday evening.

"I went outside and started coughing," Sayre said. "She told me to go back inside and don't worry about it, which I did worry about it. I wanted to see my daughter play softball."

Sayre's symptoms were triggered by poor air quality, largely attributed to smoke from ongoing Canadian wildfires, affecting central Indiana over the past few days.

During an asthma attack, irritants agitate the airways, causing them to close and restricting the ability to breathe, said Roger Jundos, a respiratory therapist with Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis.

Constricted airways create a build-up of carbon dioxide, causing shortness of breath, which can also be a symptom of COVID-19.

"I had a friend that has had COVID," Sayre said. "They talked about that they can't breathe, they start wheezing, they can't walk to one end of the house without stopping to catch their breath. I don't laugh but I said, 'Welcome to my world.'"

Sayre's boss experienced similar symptoms.

"He said, 'Is this what you feel like?' I said, 'Yeah, that's what I feel like a lot of days,'" Sayre recounted.

Jundos recommends that people with asthma and other breathing difficulties always take their medications as prescribed and have an inhaler on hand should an attack occur.

Those with allergies may experience asthma attack-like symptoms, including tightening of the airways.

Discovering one's triggers can be a long process of exposure and elimination. Jundas recommends keeping a record of possible triggers and doing allergy testing.

In the case of poor air quality because of the Canadian wildfires, the American Red Cross offers these tips, particularly for those who are especially at risk — including pregnant women, children, responders and those who suffer from asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or heart disease:

—Keep windows and doors closed.

—Choose a room you can close off from outside air. Use fans and air conditioning to stay cool.

—Set up a portable air cleaner or a filter to keep the air in your room clean even if it's smoky in the rest of the building and outdoors.

—Avoid using candles, gas, propane, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces or aerosol sprays and don't fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products or run a vacuum cleaner.

—If you have a central air conditioning system, use high efficiency filters to capture fine particles from the smoke. If your system has a fresh air intake, set the system to recirculate mode or close the outdoor intake damper.

—If you're using a window air conditioner, make sure the seal between it and the window is as tight as possible and figure out how to close the outdoor air damper. For window air conditioning units, try running them on the fan mode. This will not bring in outside air, but circulate the air inside your home.

—If you're in your car, set the air to recirculate.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter @AmickCaleb. Contact him at [email protected] or 765-648-4254.

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