The Scientific Link Between Air Pollution And Asthma

Photo by Steven Lee / CC BY

Air pollution has become a fact of life that humans all over the planet must live with every day. In our highly industrialized world there is no place that air pollution has not touched. Fortunately many countries are adopting or have adopted methods of controlling the pollution to some degree although it still exists and has killed millions of people with Pakistan, Iran and India being the worst offenders.

Asthma is the most common form of respiratory disease, which causes restricted airflow, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Asthma attacks can vary greatly in severity and duration. The exact causes of asthma are unknown, but research has shown some cases of asthma are genetic, passed down from one generation to the next. Others may contract asthma during childhood due to a respiratory infection or contact with allergens during infancy while the immune system is still developing.

One thing researchers have concluded time and again is that asthma attacks are most frequent when the air quality is bad, which can include the air inside a home as well as outside. Pollutants such as factory emissions, car exhaust, tobacco smoke, and pet dander, can all trigger an asthma attack and unfortunately the list of pollutants is endless.

Other causes of an asthma attack are induced by exercise and workplace exposures. Those who have asthma and work with or around animals, timber, chemicals, and food could experience higher frequencies of attacks.

The best way to help prevent asthma attacks is to try and isolate the reason for the attack. There may be specific triggers such as tobacco smoke or certain aerosols that can be eliminated from a person’s daily life to minimize the asthma attacks. One who suffers from asthma should look at their work environment as well when trying to ascertain the cause of their asthma attacks. If removing the trigger for the asthma attack does not work medication may be prescribed to help control the asthma attacks. These medications are usually delivered with a metered-dose inhaler through the mouth.

 A respiratory therapist is one who specializes in the human airways will be able to diagnose and treat those suffering from asthmas attacks, and be able to help the patient understand what their specific asthma triggers are. If you or someone you know is suffering from asthma a physician should be consulted immediately for diagnosis and treatment.