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Triple threat of heat, smoke, and humidity makes it unhealthy to breathe outside

M.D. of Allergy, Immunology & Allergy Medical Group in Stockton, Dr. George Bensch says California is experiencing the worst air quality fo the year right now.

STOCKTON, Calif. — Sandy Stoddard is passionate about her work for the Hospice of San Joaquin and taking a walk twice a day outside. 

But, lately?

"The air is really bad and it's affecting me," she said.

Stoddard, who is 70 years old, suffers from asthma. It only started last year. She believes it's genetic. The combination of heat, humidity, and smoke creates a triple threat.

"Well, the bad thing is that first of all, the really small particles don't leave the lung. They get in there and they cause inflammation and stay. The body is trying to produce mucus to move it up and out and that's why these people are coughing. When they cough and produce a mucus or phlegm that's just full of the stuff that they're filtering out of the lung," explained George Bensch, M.D. of the Allergy, Immunology & Allergy Medical Group in Stockton.

Bensch, who has 46 years of experience in his field, says we are experiencing the worst air of the year.

"As a result, we think that most people should just stay inside if they have any respiratory disease, chronic obstructive lung, asthma, or even chronic congestion. They're going to be worse outside," said Bensch.

But if you have to go outside, what is the best way to protect yourself? Bensch shared some tips.

"You can lessen it with a mask. Now, the bad thing about it you can't take false security with it because this will get the particles but won't keep the gasses out. You know it's really not much you can do except stay in," said Bensch.

To help flush out mucus, Mensch recommends nasal saline. It is a product available for over-the-counter purchase at a pharmacy. If you are suffering from a respiratory illness, make sure you use your inhaler. And if you feel bad, you may have to see a doctor, as Sandy Stoddard did.

"When the air is bad. The air quality is bad. There's wind. And, if you are predisposed to that, just stay inside as much as you can," added Stoddard.

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