The wildfires ravaging Southern California are causing a spike in hospital visits for asthma attacks and other respiratory problems, according to health officials, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles County public health officer, said the county is seeing "a several-fold increase" in residents with "respiratory complaints, particularly wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing."
Smoke, ash and dust raised by the Santa Ana winds have worsened the air quality in at least four counties in the region, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
The winds are expected to decrease on Wednesday, but particulate matter blown out to the ocean can blow back, increasing breathing problems, according to the Daily News.
Lisa Matzer, director of the outpatient center at Glendale Adventist Hospital, said, "Small particles are extremely dangerous for the lungs, but also extremely dangerous for the heart." She added, "We're seeing earlier signs of heart disease, and we're seeing more firemen coming in complaining of chest pains" (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 10/23).