What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This makes breathing difficult and triggers coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
The definition of asthma is simple, but the condition itself is quite complex. It’s a chronic condition that requires continuous monitoring and treatment. For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can interfere with daily life. For those living in areas with polluted air, asthma is detrimental. It's not clear why some people get asthma and others don't, but genetics and the environment play a role.
How Can Air Pollution Affect Asthma?
Overall, asthmatics are relatively more sensitive to air pollution compared to healthy people. Dust, soot, and diesel fumes create fine pollution particles that are so small it makes it easy for them to travel into the lungs, causing irritation and inflammation. An asthma sufferer will experience more severe breathing problems as a result of air pollution.
What Pollutants Affect Breathing for Asthmatics?
There are two primary air pollutants that affect asthma. One is ground-level ozone (found in smog). The other is particle pollution (found in smoke, dust, and haze). When ozone and particle pollution are in the air, asthmatics are more likely to experience symptoms.
How to Protect Yourself From Pollution as an Asthmatic
There is no cure for asthma, but there are measures you can take to control your symptoms. If symptoms flare up during heavy levels of pollution, change your activity level and amount of time spent outdoors. This will reduce how much pollution you breathe in. While you might not be able to change your schedule completely, you can control the intensity of activities. For example, go for a walk instead of a run.
Sometimes you can easily see smog outside, but often it's difficult to know what the true air quality is. To help protect yourself, make sure to get up-to-date information on local levels of pollution. When available, take steps to measure air quality. These include using use tools, such as an air quality monitors, and referencing local AQI reports.