How Fireplaces Heat Up Your Asthma Symptoms

Indoor Asthma Triggers

Experts say that the smoke and toxins released when you light a fire in your fireplace--or even your wood burning stove—can actually lead to a dangerous reaction for some people who're prone to have respiratory symptoms.

The Danger that Exists

Consider the facts. The act of burning wood releases particles and other pollutants into the air you breathe. When this pollution is contained indoors, every time you inhale, you're pulling the irritants into your sensitive airways. As a result, you may find yourself coughing and wheezing.

Further, the reaction can be so strong for some asthmatics that they may need emergency medical care to combat it. In fact, one expert from the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at the New Jersey Medical School even estimates that the number of emergency visits for asthma can quadruple when the first frost sets in and fireplace use kicks in. It's also important to note that in some cases, the reaction caused by this indoor asthma trigger can be so severe they can be life threatening if not treated quickly enough.

This should prompt you to take some simple, yet all-important steps to protect yourself before you light up your fireplace next.

Protect Yourself

If you're thinking about starting a fire soon, please review the list of important ways to minimize this trigger. Your lungs will thank you for this effort.

  • Make sure your fireplace and chimney are both cleaned out well before you use them each winter.
  • Have the flue checked to be sure it works properly.
  • Use a fireplace door, instead of a screen, to minimize the smoke released.
  • Limit your time spent in front of the fireplace.
  • Open a window or ensure another means of appropriate ventilation exists in the room.
  • Dust and vacuum thoroughly after each fire to remove any particles lingering in the room.
  • Use only dry wood, since this will help minimize the amount of smoke created.
  • Use the fireplace for enjoyment only and not as the primary heat source.

Another Option

Consider swapping in your wood-burning fireplace for a gas version to prevent a possible reaction. This can be a great way to achieve a similar effect while avoiding the smoke that can make you sick.




Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

The Asthma Mom

Teco: People's Gas

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)