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I live in Sonoma County, CA, where 3 weeks ago

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1991
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I live in Sonoma County, CA, where 3 weeks ago we had the worst fires in CA history-- many losing homes, neighborhoods, and even lives to the fires. I live near the Pocket fires in Geyserville, which are still not fully contained, and we have had the worst air quality ever--worst than even China. About a week ago, I thought I had laryngitis--could hardly talk. Now I can talk better, but now have a cough, that I am trying to get rid of. I am usually, thankfully pretty healthy, until this hit. What do you think?
XXXXXXX
Posted Mon, 20 Nov 2017 in null
 
 
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 32 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Information

Detailed Answer:
Hello XXXXXXX

I am so sorry you have been exposed to the smoke and soot from the fires.

It is very possible that what you are experiencing is due to inhalant irritants. It is also possible though that you have a respiratory infection. The latter would be more likely if you have had drainage down your throat from your sinuses, causing the cough. A croup like virus can cause laryngitis and a cough.

If your symptoms are significant (quite a bit of coughing, or productive coughing), I recommend you go in to see your doctor who can have a listen to your lungs and possibly get a chest X-ray.

If you go in to an urgent care clinic (as I don't know how soon you can get in to see your own doctor), be assertive in asking for a doctor as increasingly clinics are using physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to save money.

If you know anyone in a non-smokey area of the country you can go visit for awhile, that might be just what is needed to stop the inflammation as even if your problem is mainly from a virus, I have no doubt the bad air quality is exacerbating it.

If the practitioner you see wants to give you an oral steroid such as prednisone for airway inflammation, I would caution against it unless your breathing is very bad. Better to start with an inhaled steroid (much safer) and rinse mouth and throat well after use.

I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can provide further information.
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