Red Tide Can Cause Respiratory Issues; American Lung Association Offers Tips to Protect Yourself

The red tide on the Gulf Coast of Florida doesn’t just affect marine life, it can impact your lung health. The American Lung Association in Florida is offering tips for residents to protect their lung health when the harmful algal blooms are high.

Red tide is the nickname for a harmful algal bloom that comes from a high concentration of a microscopic alga. Red tide produces toxic chemicals that can impact marine life, but also causes respiratory irritation. This can impact anyone and worsen symptoms in people living with lung diseases like asthma.

The American Lung Association in Florida recommends the following tips for Florida residents who live near the areas with red tide:
  • Avoid Red Tide Areas: Swimming in water experiencing red tide or breathing in tiny droplets in the air that contain toxins can negatively impact your lung health. If you think you are sensitive to this toxin, avoid or limit your time exposed to these areas.
  • Don’t Exercise Outside: If you have a lung condition or are impacted by red tide, and live near the beach, do not exercise outside when the red tide is present. Additionally, keep your doors and windows shut to prevent the toxic fumes from entering your house.
  • Action Plans: If you have asthma, review your asthma action plan with your physician and your family. If you don’t have one yet, learn more about Asthma Action Plans to get started today at  
  • Medications: During times of red tide, make sure you continue taking your regular medications and keep your quick relief or “rescue” inhaler with you at all times in case of symptoms.
  • Keep an eye out for symptoms. People may develop health problems during red tide, even if they’ve never had them before. Be aware of any symptoms that may arise, including:
    • Respiratory irritation (coughing, sneezing)
    • Shortness of breath
    • Throat irritation
    • Eye irritation
    • Skin irritation
    • Asthma attacks
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your lung health.
To request an interview, contact Jill Smith at [email protected] or 704-818-4138 or for more information about lung health, visit

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