Late summer heat, poor air quality keeping doctors busy

It feels like summer in September with highs hovering near record territory. Locally the heat is causing problems for those with pre-existing lung conditions. An air quality alert was issued this week as temperatures continue to soar.

If you look close outside, you’ll see early signs of fall, but don’t let looks fool you.

“Summer sometimes lingers here,” said one Charlotte native.

The searing summer sun is still radiating heat into the Queen City.

“We moved from South Florida up to here years ago and we love the weather up here because of fall and winter so we are definitely ready for a break in the heat,” said one woman at Freedom Park.

But not everyone is ready for relief.

ALERT: Air quality could be dangerous for children, elderly Wednesday

“I am from a place called Oswego, New York, population 20,000, where it snows nine months out of the year, so this is beautiful,” said Melissa Knosp.

You may have noticed the normally beautiful Charlotte skyline has been stuck behind a hazy fog. An air quality alert has been issued by the National Weather Service, specifically for those with chronic lung issues, like COPD and asthma.

“We have to be more vigilant when we are thinking about the fall and the leaves changing and cooling down. It is still in the mid to upper 90s depending on the heat index and when the air quality is poor we have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves,” said Dr. Chris Branner, Specialty Medical Director of Urgent Care at Atrium Health.

Doctors at Atrium Health tell FOX 46 Charlotte they have been seeing more patients with trouble breathing and there are signs to look for.

“Labored breathing and that is often more increased effort or work of breathing, with the chest heaving more heavily, or perhaps breathing faster,” said Dr. Branner.

Trouble breathing can also be a sign of too much exercise in the heat, leading athletes to also wish for more fall like weather in the future.

“I love the fall time, winter, even spring I can do a little better working out,” said Tracy Allston.

Doctors say air quality can dramatically improve if a steady rain shower passes through which will essentially clean the atmosphere.