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Diseases Caused or Aggravated By Air Pollution

By Edited May 1, 2015 0 0

air pollution(58075)
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Being exposed daily to air pollution may result to several health problems, which is fast arising these days due to different kinds of pollutants present in the air. Everyone is affected, no matter how young or how old the person is. Studies have shown that being exposed to air pollution on a long term basis raised the risks of respiratory problems among individuals concerned. The health risks start from simple coughing, colds, difficulty in breathing and wheezing to more complicated diseases such as the following:

Asthma

This disease is triggered by different physical, environmental and genetic factors but is primarily triggered by being exposed to air pollution for a long time. Cigarette smoke, car exhaust fumes, gases from factories often irritates the lungs of asthmatic individuals, resulting to an asthma attack with symptoms including short breathing intervals, intense cough, and wheezing from the chest due to narrowed airways. Asthma is sometimes hereditary but sometimes acquired through environmental factors including pollution. Though asthma can be cured during its attack, it is a lifetime disease which can be active anytime when exposed to air pollutants.

COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is associated with lung infections such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It happens when the airways and air sacs become deformed and somewhat swollen. Emphysema damages the wall and elasticity of alveoli (small airways found in the lungs), while chronic bronchitis is distinguished by bronchi inflammation and blockage of air flow to the lungs. COPD often requires admission to the hospital during its attack. Experts said that it is commonly caused by long term smoking but exposure to heavy air pollution for a long time may also cause this diseases. It has many similarities with asthma but the obstruction of airways is irreversible in COPD.  

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease affecting the sinuses, lungs, liver, pancreas and sex organs due to a malfunction of the secretory glands which produce mucous. Mucous normally makes the linings of the organs moist enough for fluids to pass through. In cystic fibrosis, the mucous becomes sticky and thick, making it hard for fluids to pass. It primarily involves the development of mucous in the lung, which becomes a breeding region of harmful bacteria. These bacteria would cause several lung infections and breathing difficulties to a person with cystic fibrosis. Smoking and air pollution aggravates the symptoms of cystic fibrosis. The air can be a source of microorganisms that infect the lungs so patients with cystic fibrosis should breath clean air.

Heart Disease

It is found out that being exposed to heavy air pollution could be a factor for certain heart diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Since contaminants in the air are often carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, the heart strives hard for enough oxygen to be able to work effectively. When there isn’t enough oxygen in the system, irregular heartbeats and rhythms are produced which eventually develops into a disease. Palpitations and light-headedness are the common symptoms of being exposed to too much air pollutants.

Lung Cancer

This type of cancer is one of the most common causes of death worldwide primarily due to addiction on smoking. Prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke and smog from factories could  make a person develop lung cancer. The symptoms are often not evident but sooner or later would progress to chronic cough, wheezing and chest pain. The lungs function to remove excess carbon dioxide and other unnecessary gases from our body to exchange for oxygen, which is an essential gas. In lung cancer, the lungs become weak and unable to supply enough oxygen to the body and get rid of carbon dioxide.

The best way to prevent the diseases and complications discussed above is to minimize exposure to polluted air. Avoid places reported to have high level of pollution like along highways and near factory plants.

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