How To Deal With Smoke Allergy

December 18, 2020
How To Deal With Smoke Allergy


When smoke levels or other indoor or outdoor respiratory irritants are high, even healthy people can experience health problems due to smoke allergy symptoms. It’s important to understand how these irritants can affect your health, including who is most susceptible to allergic reactions. How do these effects interact with conditions like asthma or allergies? How to deal with a smoke allergy? Let’s look closely to answer some of these questions, which in turn will help us better understand what health precautions we need to take.


The particulate component of wood smoke is made up of particles of varying sizes, based on the material being burned and the temperature it’s burned at. Wildfires introduce a massive amount of particulate pollutants into the air, estimated to be more than urban pollution. The size of the particles is important because smaller particles stay in the air longer, and therefore are dispersed over longer distances and wider areas.

Fine (under 2.5 microns) and ultrafine (under 1 micron) particles are of special concern because particles that small can enter the lungs and become lodged in the tissue there, causing damage to the surrounding cells. When particles this small enter the lungs, they cause an inflammatory response that can extend from the surrounding cells to systemic inflammation. Resulting in greater susceptibility to infections. These are some reasons why there is an increased demand for respirators amongst hospital centers and medical facilities worldwide.


The immediate short-term effects, regardless of sensitivity, are burning eyes, nose, and throat, watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, and shortness of breath. Your body may produce extra phlegm in response to inhaling smoke. These symptoms are, in part, your body attempting to expel particles by washing them away. In addition, phlegm traps particles before they can reach your lungs. Even healthy adults may experience an inflammatory response of wheezing or restricted breathing.

People with asthma may have breathing difficulties in everyday air. The irritation caused by inhaling smoke can trigger asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath, constricted chest, wheezing, inability to draw deep breaths, and chest pain. People with allergies may have an allergic reaction to something in the wood smoke. However, the symptoms of an allergic reaction are virtually identical to the other short-term symptoms of inhaling smoke. Those symptoms may be worse than they would be for someone without allergies. Repeated exposures to wood smoke have been found to cause an allergic sensitization of the respiratory system. However, this is more likely in someone like a firefighter who battles wildfires than someone who experiences wildfire smoke infrequently.


Allergy and asthma sufferers can take several steps to decrease the impact of wildfire smoke:

  • Keep track of air quality ratings in your area to assess risk.
  • Minimize exposure by staying indoors as much as possible.
  • Protect your indoor air quality by keeping windows and doors closed.
  • Don’t burn candles, vacuum, or use aerosol sprays—they’re all sources of indoor pollution.
  • If your home has air conditioning or a high-efficiency particulate air filter, use it.
  • Avoid unnecessary exercise or exertion, both indoors and out.
  • If you do go out, reduce indoor pollution by showering and changing clothes when you return.
  • If you use a rescue inhaler, keep one on hand.
  • Pay close attention to symptoms and seek medical help at the first sign of trouble.



Treatments for smoke allergy during the winter include:

  • Antihistamines, which reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching
  • Decongestants, which clear mucus to relieve congestion and swelling
  • Immunotherapy (allergy shots or under-the-tongue tablets), exposes your body to gradually bigger doses of the allergen. This approach can curb your symptoms for a longer period than allergy drugs.



To conclude, many people believe that as the spring and fall seasons wrap, so do their allergies. But the truth is that they are mistaken. While the onslaught of colder weather and freezing temperatures bring an end to seasonal pollen allergies, it doesn’t mean that your environment is free of allergens. This winter be sure that when bringing in any firewood into the home it’s been cleaned and checked for mold. In addition, when starting any fire, make sure that the chimney damper is open so that no unwanted smoke comes into the home.

The best way for a person to handle smoke allergies is also the simplest: understand what triggers the symptoms and control them with avoidance. For now, make sure to stay safe and stay warm this holiday season!

Did you enjoy reading this article? Do you have any smoke or other winter-related allergies? What do you normally do to deal with the symptoms? Leave a comment below!


  1. That would be helpful for one whose neighbors all around them in a dense area weren’t burning their fireplaces. If a person has a wood allergy, the last thing they need to be doing is burning wood or bringing it into their house. Also, have some consideration for others that live by you -opening your flue so you don’t breathe it in is great -but what about your neighbors? People need to take action with the government to stop this wood burning!!!!

    1. I agree with you 100 percent. I’ve worked with our air pollution control district to no avail because our fire departments are pro burning in my community and they pushed back on any regulations! Total bummer because I live in CA and most of the people burn because they like a fire not out of financial need.
      I’m allergic to sulfur and when wood burns this gas is released.
      Totally changes my life!!

    2. 100% in agreement! It is immoral to poison others with filthy wood-burning practices and must be made illegal.
      Many are suffering, but attitudes and beliefs are twisted by propaganda from the wood-burning industry. E.V.I.L.!!!!
      It is good to know we are not alone in this fight. There is strength in numbers; let us all resist as a United Front. Bless You, Sister!

    3. I couldn’t agree more, it’s so lovely to read all the comments and feel less alone – I’ve lived in two places now with neighbours woodburners leaking directly into my home from co-joined fireplaces and apparently, that’s fine! No clean air inside and none outside, action definitely needs to be taken!!

    4. One person’s allergy should not be used as a cudgel to hold an entire world hostage. Maybe you’re not an angry person all the time, maybe this is just a bad moment for you, but I suggest you chill.

      The world does not revolve around you and your problems, nor me and mine.

      Fires happen, things burn. All over the world, including in the United States, there are people who burn wood for heating because that’s all they have. Accidents happen on highways and cars burn, house fires occur half a mile away and the smoke blows my direction and the smell is appalling, there are wildfires, and grass fires, volcanoes happen and some are so bad they change the earth’s climate for a decade.

      You didn’t say if you had other related issues, but here’s a short list of mine, and I don’t try to make the world about me act as if I’m some kind of god whose wish is their command.

      People smoking weed makes me gag and gives me migraines, and that can happen even when downwind by several houses, when they are walking down the street, or in their car near a head of me even with their windows closed. I have often had to alter my route so they are not in front of me / slow down dramatically / speed up and pass / or pull over until the air is clear and I can drive again.

      People burn incense & candles, use scented plugins, wear cologne or perfume, use certain laundry detergent or fabric softeners, or use certain soaps, many of which have fragrances that give me migraines and nausea. 15 affect me inside, outside, or just downwind.

      If it is something I cannot easily avoid and they can easily control at the time, I explain, and ask them nicely to stop whatever it is or please not use while I’m there, and why.

      If where you live is a significant problem for you because people burn wood in their fireplaces, move to a place where people don’t do it much or at all. It may be inconvenient, but if it’s that big of a problem and it’s that easy of a fix, I recommend you do it.

      I am not holding the world hostage due to my fragrance and other similar sensitivities. I use common sense and good judgment and do the best I can. And I get along better and people like me better as a result.

      Have a better day.

        1. Good people are all about helping each other. If ones smoke no matter where it’s from is causing another individual “personal injury” seriously, if one can’t be considerate and ignorant, then maybe try a PI attorney. An ignorant neighbor moved in above me, chain smoker, doesn’t work, doesn’t open windows, I”m suffocating, had to go to ER, couldn’t breathe, a very disgusting habit, he’s not willing to help me out…totally a loser, KARMA.

      1. I am allergic to chemicals that are released when wood burns. You have no idea what it does to your respiratory system. I could almost jump off a bridge it is so horrible. Can’t sleep either…wood burning stoves need to be banned forever.

    5. Sadly I used to enjoy a wood fire but these days the neighboring hikes have brought on a lot of breathing trouble,thick flem choking me which is distressing
      We just moved into this neighborhood and I don’t see much chance of eliminating the problem
      Not sure what I can do more than allergy med and inhaler but they don’t effect rapidly and we just put up the hepa filter
      It’s a tough situation because people do find a lot of enjoyment using a fire for warmth as well

  2. People burn wood for heat and have done so for ages. That’s what fireplaces were built for. People need to take action and make sure other people do not disturb their rights as free Americans, You can move!

    1. I agree with Wanda. We burn wood because it’s less expensive than gas or electricity and we like to eat AND stay warm. In the area in which we live, it’s more common than not. I’m sorry that it’s hard on some, but it would be harder on us to have to pay for our heat.

  3. Same situation. I am surrounded by neighbors that burn wood in wood stoves for heat. Additionally, now everyone wants, and has, a fire pit. Just when the weather gets cooler and all the leaves are changing colors everybody wants a fire. For me, all I have to do is smell a hint of smoke-any type (wood, cigarette, pot, incense), or perfume, laundry detergent, diesel fuel, cleaning products and I have an instant headache. What kind of life is this? Due to Covid19, I realized that if I keep my filtration mask on when outdoors it cuts down on the smoke I breathe in. Now I’m the person that is wearing a mask while walking my dog in the woods with no-one around. Maybe it will scare the bears away.

    1. I am in the same boat I just went out to get an estimate for my fence that blew down and my chest started burning and I could still smoke I asked the fence guy do you smell smoke in the air and he said yes so I left the one in the house now my chest is burning I have to stay in here while he gets the estimate for the fence I have industrial asthma I’m working on copiers so the pollen in the smoke the perfume just like the one person above said everything bothers my lungs I was wearing a mask 99% of the time before Covid hit it’s just something I have to live with my wife’s not happy about it at all just do everything anyway to all the sufferers I feel your pain nobody really understands what I go through

  4. we burn wood all winter. It’s cheaper than oil, and less wasteful of non renewable resources. I have developed a relatively vigorous reaction to wood smoke, but wearing glasses and a mask reduces the sneezing and sniffling. It ‘s the price we pay for being wood burners.

    I think there is enough legislation on the books already that infringe on our rights.

  5. I am in a pitched battle with my husband over the wood stove. He has no clue about allergies to wood smoke and ash. He comes in opens the stove up, rakes the ash and then leaves the door open slightly so the GD fire will catch. Meanwhile, my eyes are burning, I cough, I sneeze, sore throat. I am getting to the point where I cannot stand the smell of wood smoke. I have to clean this stupid ash that settles all over the furniture and floors. Wear glasses! I already wear glasses. I open the windows, he comes in and closes the windows. For anyone who doesn’t react to wood smoke, it’s not about rights and freedoms. What a stupid response. It is about being UNcomfortable the entire time the fire is going. God only knows what it is doing to my lungs. And he keeps putting wood on at night when it is now warm at night. It is f”king awful. I designed and built this house and I paid for most of it and now I have to fight every day about this toxic wood stove. I’ve had the chimney cleaned three times in the last two yeas and two new chimney caps @ $100 a pop because there is so much tar in the cap. Nearly impossible to clean. And the wood is seasoned and dry. I want to get rid of this 300 pound piece of junk.

    1. Please do, your neighbours will thank you too. I suffer the same as you, except I don’t burn wood, but have a neighbour’s smoke pouring into my house and yard pretty much 24/7, even when it’s warm and sunny out, making it impossible for me to to use my garden.

      1. To All:
        Do air purifiers work to clear indoor air of particulates? I see more in use since the pandemic started.

        1. Yes they do. I have used them since the 70’s. We had a daughter who had CF. Cystic fibrosis. When we did not have it she had syst growing in airways snd lungs. When we had them she did not. We also used a

  6. I’ve been campaigning against burning solid fuel for 10 years and this is the first time I’ve even come across any site claiming you can be allergic to smoke. The vast majority of doctors will tell you that can’t be allergic to a toxin by definition. Smoke is a toxin. To claim you can be allergic to it is like claiming you can allergic to Small Pox. It’s nonsense. You’re simply trying to put the ownness on those people that have already suffered considerable damage to their lungs! Smoke damages everyone’s lungs and other organs. It’s the fine particulates, the same particulates and toxins you get in cigarette smoke and they do exactly the same thing, they damage organs, cause aging of tissues cancer. Few people would dispute cigarettes impact on our health. Why do you think burning one plant material is so much better than another? It isn’t. Simple as that.

    Those of you that think that you are saving money buy burning solid fuel you aren’t taking into consideration the long term costs to the health of yourself and your neighbors not to mention the long term cost to the planet and all the knock on costs that will have to every single one of us. Fine particulates in the air absorb much more infrared than CO2, millions of times more on average with an overall average, after taking into account lifespan of the particles, of thousands times more! As well as the cost to health and the planet there’s the habitat loss to consider. Large stands of monoculture trees, often non-natives trees have serious ecological cost. There’s nothing good about burning solid fuel. Nothing!

    1. Absolutely right! Rural communities have some of the worst air quality because of wood stoves and debris burning. With over 100 wood stoves in our community and an elementary school in the middle of it the children breath wood smoke daily. All year around we suffer from other people’s burning. Fall and Spring debris fires, Winter wood stoves in garages and homes, Summer wild fires, prescribes forestry burns, camp fires, and fire pits. It’s all really too much for us seniors and the children health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Explore Other Blog Items By Category