Concerned about your, or a loved one’s, health following a house fire? Well, there may be a good reason to be concerned. It turns out there are several health risks after a house fire that you need to know about.
The most common health risks after a house fire are all related to smoke inhalation. Unfortunately, these health risks don’t just result from breathing smoke during the actual fire itself. Smoke damage tends to linger in homes – it can be behind the walls, in the air ducts, and in the carpet and furnishings. That means it is possible for you to experience prolonged exposure to smoke and inhale dangerous smoke particles without even knowing it!
We know from cigarette studies that breathing in smoke can be very dangerous to our health. Smoke from a house fire can be just as toxic, or even more toxic, than cigarette smoke! That’s because smoke from a house fire can contain everything from acidic gases to aldehydes, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, dioxins, benzene, and so much more. All of these chemicals are very bad for you and can lead to health issues.
Here are the main health risks to be aware of after a house fire:
- Respiratory issues
- Skin issues
- Sexual issues
- Heart and circulatory issues
Health Risk #1: Respiratory Issues
Toxic particles from smoke can get into your lungs and cause damage to your respiratory tract. For example, you may start experiencing difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
Smoke, usually tobacco smoke but also smoke from fires, is responsible for nearly all cases of a chronic breathing obstruction known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD includes diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These conditions can lead people to feeling breathless and unable to do many activities.
Lung cancer is another disease linked to inhalation of smoke. In fact, smoke is the cause of 90% of primary lung cancers.
Here’s a complete list of common respiratory problems after a house fire:
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Lung cancer
Health Risk #2: Inflammation
Inflammation is now believed to be a leading cause of disease. It can also cause us to age faster, both in our appearance and your physical movement. Smoke, especially smoke from a house fire, is filled with toxins that can get into our bodies and cause inflammation.
Under ordinary circumstances, inflammation is a healthy process that comes to the body’s aid when it’s injured. For instance, if you cut your finger while making dinner, the body’s inflammatory response sends in an army of white blood cells to the scene. These cellular mercenaries destroy lurking bacteria while mending any ragged tissue. By the time you can see and feel physical signs of inflammation – heat, soreness and swelling – the cut is probably well on its way to healing.
Like a houseguest who overstays their welcome, inflammation sometimes hangs around too long and refuses to leave. Aging is one of the biggest risk factors for inflammation. As we age, our bodies are less able to disarm the inflammatory process. A genetic predisposition, high blood pressure or smoke inhalation are also common fuel for the flames of inflammation. Then when the inflammation switch refuses to turn off, the body operates as if it is always under attack. White blood cells flood the system for weeks, months and even years. The problem is that the immune system can’t handle the constant demand.
When the immune system becomes drained, the body then has difficulty warding off other illnesses. For instance, viruses, bacterial infections, even cancer cells that are normally destroyed by a healthy immune system can now slip under the body’s radar. Ultimately, the immune system may even turn against the body itself – the consequences of which are quite serious: Lupus, Graves’ disease, Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia are all autoimmune disorders that come from inflammation
Health Risk #3: Skin Issues
Inhaling smoke during and after a house fire can have catastrophic effects on the condition of your skin.
You may begin to:
- Form wrinkles around your eyes and mouth
- Develop dry, unhealthy, older-looking, faster-aging skin, caused by poor circulation and low oxygen levels in the blood
Health Risk #4: Sexual Issues
Men who inhale a lot of smoke are more likely to experience impotence and loss of stamina. Overall, smoke can increase the risk of impotence by about 50% for men in their 30s and 40s.
For women, smoke can lead to reduced fertility. In one study, cigarette smokers were more than 3 times more likely than non-smokers to have taken more than a year to conceive a child. It was estimated in this study that smoking women were only 72% as fertile as non-smokers.
Health Risk #5: Diabetes
Inhaling smoke, including smoke that remains in a house after a house fire, increases a person’s risk of developing Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes by a factor of 2 to 3 times.
Inhalation of smoke also significantly increases the risk of complications and death from Type 2 diabetes.
Health Risk #6: Heart & Circulatory Issues
Smoke can make you 2 to 3 times more likely to have a heart attack than someone not breathing in smoke. It can also make you much more likely to die from heart disease. Those exposed to a lot of smoke are also more likely to have strokes, blood clots, and angina.
Health Risk #7: Cancer
Not only can exposure to smoke increase a person’s chances of developing lung cancer but you may also be at increased risk of cancer in the:
In addition to an increased risk of developing leukemia.
Remove Smoke From Your Home
Even though the effects of smoke on your health aren’t exactly news, you might be surprised to learn of all of the different ways it can impact your health. That’s why it is so important that you fully consider the health risks after a house fire. If you decide to stay, you need to make sure you hire a very good company to remove smoke damage.
Remember, smoke damage is very hard to get rid of and it can be in many different areas of a house – including far away from the fire. We recommend leaving smoke damage removal to the experts.
Prefer not to risk exposure to smoke after a house fire? Sell your house to We Buy Fire Damaged Houses. We’ll pay you cash for your home, regardless of what condition it may be in. Just fill out the form below to see if your home qualifies for a free quote.