Calgary sees record-setting smoke, rise in inhaler visits
Tuesday, August 21, 2018, 4:23 PM - A Calgary pharmacist says he's seeing more people than usual come in for help with inhalers because of smoke from wildfires.
"The last little while, probably the last two weeks, we're seeing more people with basically inflammatory lung conditions or COPD obstructive lung conditions coming in with flares, discussing shortness of breath with exertion, more so than usual," said Mark Percy of Mint Health and Drugs.
"As well as people who were previously diagnosed with conditions but didn't need inhalers."
He says, on average, each location of Mint has seen three or four people each day who have had flare-ups that they normally wouldn't see.
The smoke that was lingering over Calgary this month has caused an increase in pharmacy visits for inhalers, according to one pharmacist. (Justin Pennell/CBC)
Yesterday evening, Calgary set a record for the number of hours of smoke in a year, eclipsing the previous record set in 2017.
"The smoke itself, as the air conditions deteriorate, will impact a lot of people, but certain people will be impacted by even minor conditions," said Percy, who is also on the board for the Alberta Pharmacists' Association.
"So if their asthma or COPD is not well controlled at baseline, even small changes could make a difference for them, for sure."
Preventing emergency visits
Percy thinks this is a perfect example of how pharmacists in Alberta, who are able to prescribe, can help alleviate strains on the health-care system.
"It's an area that I think we've really seen an impact the last two weeks where patients otherwise would either continue to struggle with their respiratory conditions or go to emerg or walk-in [clinics]," he said.
"So I think it's definitely showing our expertise and value in the system."