We often take the air we breathe in for granted, don’t we? If I asked you how often you thought about the quality or cleanliness of the air that you breathe daily, I am sure you, just like me and many others will agree with me that the air we breathe is not something that bothers us much. This however, should not be the case! It is very important to think about the environment you are exposed to and the ramifications it will have on your health. Whereas it is impossible to control the type of air we breathe in, having the knowledge on the state of air pollution in certain region, will help you reduce the number of times you expose yourself to that environment as much as you can.
It is important to stay clear of polluted air or environments with no so clean air because such contaminated places are the key suspects when it comes to causing respiratory complications. Today, we want to take a look at the effects of air pollution on lungs, asthma and cardiovascular diseases.
How air pollution affects lungs
There are very many contaminants in polluted air depending on the levels of pollution in that specific air. Contaminants in polluted air range from sulfur oxide, ozone to small particles. These contaminants cause different respiratory complications to the lungs. When you breathe in these gases and particles, they scour the inside of lungs causing inflammations. The inside lining of the lungs is so soft that any hard particle will cause injury and inflammation to the linings of the lungs. The inflammation causes an increased mucus production and excessive coughing. This reduces the lung function and makes the lungs work so hard to maintain the required respiration levels.
How air pollution worsens cardiovascular diseases
If someone has a preexisting cardiovascular condition and he/she is exposed to polluted air, then the cardiovascular conditions will only get worse. Polluted air contains small particles and toxins which enter the bloodstream through the lungs. These particles reduce both the function of the lungs to oxygenate blood and also reduce the ability of the heart to effectively pump blood to all parts of the body and this is essentially how heart attacks are triggered. Exposure to air pollution can also cause strokes and irregular heart rhythms. Air pollution is believed to be the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease where the proper circulation of blood in the body is inhibited. People with such preexisting conditions are at a greater risk therefore of aggravating these conditions and making them even worse every time they expose themselves to the contaminants from polluted air.
How air pollution affects asthma
As we already know, asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by spams in the bronchi of the lungs which make it difficult to breathe. The disease affects your the airways and makes them more sensitive to certain triggers. Among the most common triggers, are chemicals, dust and certain odors contained in polluted air! This means that any asthmatic individual will really struggle to pull through the day in a polluted environment. They will experience shortness of breath, wheezing, rapid coughing and difficulties sleeping. The quality of life lead by such individuals is really low and if they do not move sooner or later, they will start experiencing even worse complications such as anaphylaxis which can potentially cause death.
Avoiding polluted environments
To stay safe from all of the above mentioned detriments, it is only wise to stay away from areas with heavy air pollution. Areas with heavy industrial activity, urban centers with high smoke emission levels, mining spots with a lot of dust in the air and chemical manufacturing industries are some of the areas that you should avoid at all costs. If you are working in such an area, irrespective of whether you have a respiratory disease or not, always wear protective clothing and equipment which reduce the magnitude of the contaminants and render the air you breathe in safer. In case the working area is not properly equipped to reduce the effects of air pollution, feel free to contact your manager and complain about the same. Your life could be at stake.
If you are exposed to air pollution for long hours, it is important to go for medical checkups on a regular basis. Medical checkups will help you discover any respiratory complications as soon as possible and start treatment before it is too late. The best thing to do however, is to stay away from bad air pollution as much as you can. This way you will improve your breathing and the quality of life that you lead. In case you experience any form of trouble breathing or an aggravated asthma attack, then visit the nearest emergency room for treatment.