Air Pollution May Cause Respiratory Infections

Nobody likes air pollution. It usually looks and smells bad, and it creates unhealthy air quality conditions. This is especially true for people who suffer from allergies and respiratory problems. Sometimes the situation goes beyond mere discomfort and inconvenience, however, and presents a genuine health hazard for people who are highly sensitive to allergens and may already have weakened lungs.

Air Pollution May Cause Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections usually occur between the months of September to March, and are typically the most frequent health issues contributing to absenteeism from school and work. The most common respiratory illnesses and infections include allergies and asthma, as well as more serious problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

Studies have shown there is a link between high levels of air pollution and increased incidents of respiratory infections. Pollution affects the ozone, and disperses or saturates the air with toxic particles and other irritants, which creates poor air quality. The higher the level of pollution, especially at sustained levels, the greater the risk to vulnerable individuals. These usually include children, the elderly, and others who already have compromised immune systems. Another segment of the population at risk of developing asthma are children and other individuals who participate in outdoor sports, in areas that tend to have a substantial amount of smog with ground-level ozone.

The offending allergens and pollutants first attack the inner lining or mucus membrane of the upper respiratory tract. High levels of toxicity in the pollutants can actually impair the body's own defense system, rendering it incapable of fighting off infection. If the infection continues to go untreated, it can eventually settle in the lungs and create a potentially life-threatening situation.

Potential Solutions to Reduce Respiratory Infections
Your health care provider can help you reduce or treat respiratory infections if you seek treatment early enough, as soon as you recognize the symptoms. These may include sneezing, runny or congested nose, and nasal discharge; sore, scratchy throat and difficult or painful swallowing; headache and fever; dry, hacking cough that often causes rib pain; shortness of breath; and hoarseness or laryngitis.

Preventative measures should be your first consideration, or first line of defense, in reducing the likelihood of becoming sick. Limiting exposure to pollution is one of the best solutions to reduce or eliminate the chance of contracting respiratory infections. Even if you are careful about avoiding outdoor pollution, however, you should be aware that pollutants can make their way indoors through open windows and doors. Another safeguard against respiratory infections, therefore, is to install a high quality air filter or air purifier system to trap the allergens and pollutants before they get to you.

Other common sense solutions to reduce respiratory infections are to not smoke, stop smoking, or not be around others who smoke. Try to avoid underground parking garages or industrialized areas where pollution levels are high and air quality is at dangerous levels for those with weakened lungs and immune systems. Be careful when using toxic household cleaning supplies, paint, chemicals, lawn and garden supplies, or other products with noxious fumes; protect yourself by wearing a mask and making sure indoor areas are well-ventilated.

Keep your home clean and free of dust. You may have to consider giving up pets, if pet fur and dander irritate your lungs. Prevent dry air in your home by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier. Avoid going outside during extreme or severe weather conditions, such as winter storms and temperatures below freezing, or high humidity and heat index during the summer.

If you live in an area that frequently experiences episodes of pollution that negatively affect the air quality, pay attention to how you are feeling. Is your breathing compromised? Do you experience pain and shortness of breath? Be sure to consult with your doctor and let him or her know what symptoms you are experiencing, so you can begin receiving the right type of treatments to combat any respiratory infections. Your doctor can also give you recommendations regarding using air filter or purification systems as an overall solution to guard against respiratory infections.

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