Doctor warns Ballarat on smoke inhalation due to Victorian bushfires

A LEADING respiratory doctor has warned people to avoid overly strenuous exercise and reduce outside activity as smoke continues to blanket Ballarat.

With a haze of smoke lingering around the city since Monday from fires near Kilmore and the east of Victoria, Ballarat’s Brett Knight has urged people to take every precaution to ensure they do not succumb to the effects of the smoke.

Dr Knight said people with underlying lung diseases were most at risk, and should spend as little time as possible outdoors in the coming days.

He said there had been anecdotal reports of increased hospital admissions over the past few days due to smoke-related symptoms.

“The smoke can potentially be very irritating to people with underlying lung diseases – especially emphysema and asthma. It can exacerbate their symptoms,” Dr Knight said.

“Generally people are aware they have these diseases, but there is also a chance it could trigger diseases like asthma they are not aware of.”

For healthy people, Dr Knight still recommended a cautious approach, especially towards exercise.

He said although it was unlikely the smoke would cause any damage to the long-term health of people, it could still have some nasty side-effects.

“People should try not to do things outdoors if it is particularly smokey,” Dr Knight said.

“People need to be a bit cautious with heavy physical exertion with conditions the way they are, especially training for an extended time.

“We’ve noticed the hot weather has been a factor and some people haven’t handled it all that well. 

“If people experience any symptoms they should visit their doctor or go to hospital.”

Dr Knight said wheezing, breathlessness, coughing and eye, nose or throat irritation were telltale signs of smoke exposure.

It is expected the smoke could linger in Ballarat for the rest of the week.

Smoke from Victorian fires covers Mount Buninyong and Mount Warrenheip. PICTURE: ED DUNENS

Smoke from Victorian fires covers Mount Buninyong and Mount Warrenheip. PICTURE: ED DUNENS