(NC) Spending time outdoors during the hot months is a given, but for those who suffer from asthma and other lung diseases, air pollution can make it harder to breathe.
Air pollution — a mix of particles and gases like ozone, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide — can negatively affect your health and breathing. Some of the effects are minor, while others can be more severe.
Short term health effects include an increase in asthma symptoms, emergency department visits and lung infections. Long term health effects include an increased risk of asthma and pneumonia, and reduced lung function in children.
Larger cities tend to have higher levels of pollution, but since wind can carry pollution long distances, there can be high levels in rural areas too.
When pollution or allergens are at levels that affect you, The Lung Association recommends these tips to help you stay healthy:
• Stay in a cool, clean setting.
• Keep windows and doors closed in your home and car.
• When needed, run your air conditioner and replace the air filter when required.
• Be active indoors in a cool, clean setting.
• Air pollution can build through the day, with the highest levels often in late afternoon during rush hours in high-traffic areas; it’s a good idea to avoid them if possible.
• Pollen levels tend to be highest on dry, sunny and windy days. You can find pollen reports at The Weather Network.
You can keep your asthma under control so air pollution will be less likely to affect you by taking your asthma medications as prescribed, avoiding your asthma triggers, and adjusting your medication based on your action plan if you start to have symptoms. If you don’t have an asthma action plan, see your healthcare provider to get one.
You can monitor the air quality health index and sign up for alerts at www.airqualityontario.com.