CLEVELAND (WJW) – After Northeast Ohio health officials put out a warning to residents of potentially “unhealthy” air quality from massive wildfires in Canada, it is important to know how to protect your health. 

According to Cleveland Clinic Pulmonologist Neha Solanki, MD, “If you live in an area that has a high degree of air pollution, for example, and if you have symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, you should see a doctor,” Dr. Solanki states. “You may be able to get help before it becomes a chronic health issue that you have to live with.”

Air pollution symptoms to watch out for, according to the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Worsening asthma
  • Allergy symptoms
  • Chest pain or palpitations
  • Eye or throat irritation

There are dozens of wildfires decimating land across several Canadian provinces. Those large clouds of smoke and harmful pollutants are flowing south which has severely impacted air quality across large parts of the Northeast and Midwest.

The EPA warns that the air quality in large parts of Ohio is unhealthy. On Wednesday, more than 50 percent of the U.S., everything east of Columbus, was experiencing unhealthy air quality levels.

Best methods to protect yourself, according to the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Keep your home and car windows closed
  • Don’t use your fireplace or grill
  • Purchase air purifiers for rooms you spend the most time in
  • Stay inside
  • Wear an N95 mask
  • Don’t burn candles or use wood-burning stoves
  • Avoid secondhand smoke

According to the Cleveland Clinic, you can keep the toxic fumes out of your house by using your air conditioning. Even while driving, Dr. Solanki said to keep windows up and circle the air within the car.

According to Dr. Solanki, inhaling wildfire smoke can cause airway inflammation and lead to lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There’s also a connection between wildfire smoke and cardiovascular disease.

Those more at risk of experiencing negative effects of wildfire smoke include people who have underlying chronic respiratory conditions or cardiovascular disease, are pregnant, over the age of 65, are smokers and children.

“We breathe in smoke, and it gets into our bloodstream,” says Dr. Solanki. “Then the particles stick to a location in our body and the immune system activates and can create an inflammatory response.”

Click here to view an interactive map of air quality across the U.S. Click here to learn more about the air quality alert.