Your Environmental Settings and Its Effect on Asthma
Did you know that the kind of neighborhood you live in can have a direct impact on the health of your respiratory system? That's because lungs are one of the primary ways people's bodies interface with their surroundings, according to researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO). Therefore, the types of things that are contained in the air you breathe will have a strong influence on how well your lungs can do the job that nature intended.
Whether you reside in a bustling section of a city, have a picture perfect house in the suburbs, or enjoy the quieter pace of a rural setting, the triggers you come into contact with in the course of your day can lead to the airway inflammation common in asthma, along with other lung-related health issues.
Here's an overview of how different settings will impact your respiratory function, along with some suggestions on what you can do to try to minimize the suffering.
In the City
If you live in a city and notice your asthma has been kicking in frequently, blame a combination of factors: air pollution caused by concentrated traffic, exposure to cigarette smoke, cockroaches, dust, mold, and high ozone levels. Neighborhoods with poor housing conditions can be especially ripe with these types of triggers, which can translate into poor lung health for many residents.
In the Suburbs
Suburban neighborhoods sporting manicured lawns, lush trees, and colorful gardens can also be filled with asthma triggers and the problem may be on the rise, thanks to global warming. Recent climate changes have led to longer growing seasons and an increase in storms and flooding. All of this translates into an abundance of seasonal allergens such as pollen, mold, and ragweed. Other triggers that you might encounter in the suburbs include burning wood, animal dander, chemicals, and pollution from traffic.
In the Country
Rural environments have been known to have lower asthma rates than other settings. Yet recent studies have identified an increase in serious asthma episodes and hospitalizations among country dwellers in the past few years. This may be in part because many outdoor allergens are concentrated in the countryside, which means that you're likely to feel its effects more strongly on your lungs. Additionally, many people living in rural communities don't have direct access to health facilities, and/or are uninsured, so they may ignore their symptoms instead of seeking medical care when they need it. When left untreated, a mild asthma episode can quickly become serious.
Take Control of Your Asthma Triggers
Regardless of where you live, in the city, the suburbs, or in a rural setting, you don't have to change your address in order to break the asthma and environment link. The best way to control your condition is to work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive asthma action plan that's geared to your specific living environment. This should include identifying your triggers and coming up with steps to avoid them on a regular basis. For instance, if traffic pollution is a problem, you may want to stay indoors during rush hour. Or if pollen is an issue, you can keep your windows closed and hire someone to handle your lawn maintenance.
You'll also want to use your asthma control medications regularly and carry a fast-acting relief inhaler, just in case you should need it.
Finally, make it a priority to get regular medical care, not only when you're already feeling ill, but also when you're well. By being proactive, you can manage asthma in any setting.
"Asthma Capitals 2011." Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. AAFA, 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.
"Asthma Rates And Where You Live." Children's Memorial Hospital. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2009.Web. 1 Dec. 2011.
"Environment and Lung Health." Breathe California of Los Angeles County. Breathla.org, 30 Nov. 2007. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.
"Environmentally Induced Lung Disease." Thoracic Society. World Health Organization, 2002. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.
"Living Near Heavy Traffic Increases Asthma Severity." UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Healthpolicy.UCLA.edu, Aug. 2006. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.
Wang, Yang. "Houston asthma rates show rural areas suffering the most." Houston Chronicle. Chron.com, 27 June 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.
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