Trouble breathing? Don't ignore summer air problems

What's Going Around: Jacksonville had 1 warning day already this year

By Melanie Lawson - The Morning Show anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla - We've only had one so far this year when the city of Jacksonville warned that ozone readings were dangerously high but it probably won't be the last. In this week's "What's Going Around" segment, UF Health emergency room physician Rich Westenbarger explains what can happen.

"More people are outside in the environment and there's certain substances in the air, a lot of times they're invisible sometimes its just extra exhaust fumes from you know more cars in the roads, those kinds of things they all contribute and can actually cause some people to have problems with their upper airways," says Westenbarger.

The reading back in May topped out at 106; unhealthy levels begin at 101.  When the ozone level is high it's recommended that the elderly and people with respiratory problems limit their outdoor activity. 

"Sometimes the muscles will actually kind of contract and get smaller and the airways actually swell from kind of allergy. And those things can actually make it pretty distressing to breathe," says Westenbarger.

This is not something to ignore for people who already have breathing issues it can be a scary experience.  But Westenbarger says regardless of ozone levels the summer this population should also take summer seriously.

 "I actually recommend that anybody who has problems with asthma always have an inhaler on them, just in case. But particularly if they're going to be out and about and you know, they're in the environment you definitely want to have that," says Westenbarger.

People who deal with asthma on a daily know that best asthma control is to avoid the weather triggers. The city of Jacksonville posts a current and historic Air Quality Index.

For more on the local on local air advisories, visit

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