TAMPA, FL | August 19, 2021
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 Lung.org/Asthma.
- 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.
For more information about lung health, visit Lung.org/asthma.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:Lung.org.
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How does red tide cause respiratory problems? ›
The Florida red tide organism, K. brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die. Wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release these toxins into the air, leading to respiratory irritation.How do you treat red tide respiratory problems? ›
For most people, symptoms are temporary when red tide toxins are in the air. Wearing a particle filter mask may lessen the effects, and research shows that using over-the- counter antihistamines may decrease your symptoms.What causes a red tide quizlet? ›
What is red tide? Red tide is caused by Algal blooms- During which, algae becomes so numerous and it may deplete oxygen and emit toxins into the air. different species in the water causes a discoloration.What are the effects of red tide on humans? ›
Red Tide: People exposed to red tide may experience varying degrees of eye, nose, and throat irritation. The symptoms are usually temporary and go away when a person leaves the area with red tide.Can red tide cause sinus problems? ›
In my experience, patients with asthma or allergies are more likely to experience symptoms with Red Tide exposure. These include itchy and burning eyes, throat irritation and nasal symptoms like congestion, sneezing and itching. Coughing, wheezing and chest tightness also have been reported.Can smelling red tide make you sick? ›
Onshore effects include foul-smelling air and causing irritation to the eyes, nose and lungs for those near impacted waterways. “If you have respiratory problems — specifically asthma or emphysema which are actually diseases of inflammation — then red tide can trigger your respiratory inflammatory response,” Dr.What should a person with asthma do when there is a red tide? ›
People with respiratory problems (like asthma, emphysema or bronchitis) should avoid red tide areas, especially when winds are blowing on shore. If you go to the beach and have one of these conditions, you should be very cautious. If you have symptoms, leave the beach and seek air conditioning (A/C).Why am I coughing at the beach? ›
Offshore winds usually keep respiratory effects experienced by those on the shore to a minimum. “This is a chemical that has a reaction in the lungs. It produces a certain reaction in the cough mechanism that makes you cough.” It can make you sneeze as well.What are 2 conditions that often cause red tides to occur? ›
Major factors influencing red tide events include warm ocean surface temperatures, low salinity, high nutrient content, calm seas, and rain followed by sunny days during the summer months (NOAA). In addition, algae related to red tide can spread or be carried long distances by winds, currents, storms, or ships.Which is mostly affected by red tide? ›
Within the United States, red tides occur most commonly in the Gulf of Mexico, off California, and in the Gulf of Maine. In each of these locales, a different microorganism—present at low levels normally—generates the algal bloom when conditions align. (Read more about red tides in Australia.)
What are red tides caused mostly by? ›
Red tides, also called harmful algal blooms (HABs), occur when microscopic algae multiply to higher-than-normal concentrations, often discoloring the water. Although more than 50 HAB species occur in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the most well-known species is Karenia brevis, the red tide organism.Does red tide cause headaches? ›
NSP, or neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, is an illness resulting from the consumption of red tide toxin-contaminated shellfish. Volunteers reported symptoms similar to NSP — such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or headaches — without eating tainted shellfish.Does red tide cause shortness of breath? ›
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.Do humans make red tide worse? ›
However, certain human activities are making them more frequent. Chemicals from farming, factories, sewage treatment plants and other sources can become dissolved in water on the land. This water, called runoff, eventually flows into the ocean and can cause algae to grow faster, leading to red tides.Does red tide cause coughing? ›
Marine scientists who have been tracking the Sarasota Bay resident bottlenose dolphin population have discovered when the animals swim within a strong red tide they will "cough" and "sneeze" in ways similar to humans with a bad cold.Can red tide cause long term effects? ›
Janie Mylett says that long-term lung inflammation can also occur, especially if you have underlying lung disease, emphysema or asthma. This can lead to permanent scarring of the lungs and trouble keeping airways open.Can red tide cause respiratory infection? ›
Individuals exposed in areas with red tide events exhibit a variety of upper and lower respiratory symptoms including coughing, sneezing, rhinorrhea, and bronchoconstriction. Exposure to brevetoxins has been shown to induce more severe respiratory effects in individuals with asthma.Can red tide cause dizziness? ›
People who eat shellfish contaminated with red tide can experience gastrointenstinal and neurological distress, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, muscular aches, tingling in the tongue, lips, throat and extremities. Symptoms usually appear within a few hours after eating contaminated shellfish and vanish in a few days.Can red tide cause wheezing? ›
In humans, the inhalation of aerosolized K brevis red-tide toxins results in conjunctival irritation, rhinorrhea, nonproductive cough, and wheezing. In the population of healthy individuals, there is reportedly rapid reversal of these symptoms by leaving beach areas or entering an air-conditioned area.What does red tide smell like? ›
The “sulfurous, rotten, decaying” stench has remarkable staying power as it wafts inland on sea breezes, Latz said. “I'm a mile and a half inland,” he said. “I smell it here.” Some kinds of red tide produce toxins that are harmful to sea creatures and humans, Latz said, but these events aren't poisonous, just putrid.
Does red tide affect allergies? ›
What Are the Symptoms of Poisoning From Red Tide? Especially in warmer climates, red tide toxins in the air and water can cause problems with allergic reactions, minor breathing problems, and irritation of skin and other areas.How do you heal asthma attacks? ›
All asthma attacks require treatment with a quick-acting (rescue) inhaler such as albuterol. One of the key steps in preventing an asthma attack is to avoid your triggers. If your asthma attacks seem to be set off by outside triggers, your doctor can help you learn how to minimize your exposure to them.Are all red tides toxic? ›
Are all Red Tides Toxic? In California the majority of red tides are not caused by species that produce deadly toxins such as domoic acid and the paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins. Sometimes, however, phytoplankton blooms are formed by toxin producers.Can coughing swim? ›
Cold or Flu
However, swimmers with contagious illnesses including flu, cough or a fever are much better served staying at home and resting. Rest assists recovery and, naturally enough, helps avoid the likelihood of the infection being spread to others.
You are more likely to get sick if you swim at a closed beach or one that has not been tested for contamination. Swimmers can sometimes be exposed to more serious diseases like salmonella. People can get rashes simply from getting polluted water on their skin or in their eyes.Can a day at the beach make you sick? ›
The beach is a popular summer playground for humans, but pathogens like to hang out there, too, and can infect you, if you're unaware of them. These bacteria, viruses and microorganisms can get into the water through runoff after rainfall, untreated sewage and even from other beachgoers. They're also found on the sand.What are some facts about red tide? ›
What is Red Tide? Red tides are caused by the massive growth of tiny, microscopic algae, which is a type of phytoplankton in the ocean. In Texas, microscopic algae named Karenia brevis often cause red tides. Massive growth of these algae gives the water a reddish color, which is why it is called a red tide.When did red tide start? ›
16th century -- A Spanish explorer records stories by Florida Indians of toxic "red water" and the resulting death of birds and fish. 1844 -- The first scientifically documented red-tide episode in U.S. waters occurs in the Gulf along what is called the West Florida Shelf, off the Panhandle near Panama City.What are red tides examples? ›
For example, the red tide blooms occurring along Florida's west coast each fall are linked to nutrients discharges from the Mississippi River in the west and the seasonal wind patterns that move nutrients east towards Florida.How long does red tide last? ›
Red tides can last anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year, according to FWC. Why is red tide harmful? K. brevis produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, which causes the animals to die, according to FWC.
Can red tide cause skin infections? ›
Coming into contact with toxic water
The toxins associated with red tide may also cause skin irritation, rashes, and burning or sore eyes.
Kirkpatrick et al. found a 19% increase in rates of pneumonia diagnoses during a red tide period compared to a non-red tide period.Can red tide cause a fever? ›
Doctors say the best way to tell the difference between red tide and other viruses, like COVID or allergies, is that red tide won't cause a fever, chills or body aches. “The I just want to bundle up in bed and call my mom you're not going to get that with the red tide,” Waldrep said.Can aerosolized red tide cause respiratory irritation? ›
In humans, the inhalation of aerosolized K brevis red-tide toxins results in conjunctival irritation, rhinorrhea, nonproductive cough, and wheezing. In the population of healthy individuals, there is reportedly rapid reversal of these symptoms by leaving beach areas or entering an air-conditioned area.Can red tide give you pneumonia? ›
Kirkpatrick et al. found a 19% increase in rates of pneumonia diagnoses during a red tide period compared to a non-red tide period.Can red tide make your chest hurt? ›
The Red Tide and Allergies
While it may not affect everyone, it certainly has a strong impact on those who already have asthma or other allergies. On average, these individuals will experience coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, itchy and burning eyes, throat irritation and congestion, and sneezing.
- a cough – you may bring up mucus (phlegm)
- a stuffy or runny nose.
- a sore throat.
- muscle aches.
- breathlessness, tight chest or wheezing.
- a high temperature.
Inhaling red tide toxins called brevetoxins can cause respiratory irritation like coughing, sneezing, tearing and itchy throat.Can red tide cause sore throat? ›
People in coastal areas near the shoreline may experience varying degrees of eye, nose, and throat irritation. When a person leaves an area with red tide, symptoms usually go away. If symptoms persist, please seek medical attention.What are red tide poisoning symptoms? ›
After ingestion, this poison immediately affects the nervous system, with symptoms usually occurring within 30 minutes. Severity depends on the amount of toxin consumed. Initial reactions are tingling of the lips and tongue, which spreads to the face, neck, fingertips, and toes. Headache, dizziness, and nausea follow.