Smog is more than just a four-letter word. Not only can air pollution hang low, obscuring blue sky views, air pollution can seriously impact your health.
Air pollution can worsen pre-existing respiratory illnesses, contribute to chronic conditions and cause damage to the cardiopulmonary system. Let’s expose three secrets connecting air pollution to heart and lung health.
1. The Relationship Between Air Pollution and Pulmonary Disorders
Air pollution happens when harmful gases, dust particles and fumes contaminate the atmosphere. These contaminants affect the air we breathe. In regions where air pollution is present, each breath we take contains oxygen as well as air pollutants.
Breathing is an intricate process. The lungs extract oxygen from the air we breathe, delivering this gas into the bloodstream where it helps fuel the body’s many functions. However, air pollutants accompany oxygen into the lungs and can cause pulmonary disorders.
2. How Air Pollution Triggers Asthma
A major component of smog, ozone is a harmful gas that’s one of the most common air pollutants in the country. Ozone acts as a lung irritant, causing inflammation that reduces lung function. Ozone and other gases and particulates associated can trigger asthma in children and adults, interfering with their ability to breathe. Asthma is a chronic pulmonary disease characterized by shortness of breath, tightness of the chest, wheezing and coughing.
3. The Connection Between COPD and Air Pollution
While impaired lung function is reversible with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is incurable. People with COPD also have narrowed airways and difficulty breathing. In some cases, the reduced blood oxygen levels can contribute to heart failure. Long term exposure to lung irritants, such as smoking, is often the cause for COPD. However, air pollution can exacerbate COPD, worsening COPD’s symptoms.