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Air Pollution and Your Airways

By Janin Hendry

The great outdoors is the best place for anyone to be, but it is not always the best place for your body. The early morning jogger or the afternoon power walker knows the dangers of strolling about most modern cities in the most basic sense. The dangers of air pollution are subtle and something you will not usually notice as they get worse.

What Is in the Air?

What is floating in the air around your home is dependent upon where you live. The person that lives in the middle of rich prairie land with the nearest neighbor being two hours down the road will have fewer problems than the person living in the middle of an urban city center. Cars, buildings, and even the asphalt you walk on all contribute to air pollution.

Oxygen - Your body needs oxygen for proper body and lung functioning. Oxygen is an odorless, tasteless chemical required by most living creatures for survival.

Carbon monoxide - Carbon monoxide is another odorless and colorless gas. It occurs in areas where there are high levels of vehicles where there are large levels of exhaust. You will also find them in areas with a lot of gas and wood stoves and cigarette smoke.

Ozone - Ozone is another name for smog. Smog occurs in vehicle-dense areas where sunlight and car exhaust mingle produce a miasma that includes gasoline vapors and power plant emissions.

Nitrogen dioxide - Nitrogen dioxide is another product produced from trucks, cars, buses, and heavy equipment. It produces small particles that can worsen respiratory disorders and aggravate health disorders.

Lead - Lead is a product you will find in areas where waste incinerators and utility companies congregate. Battery manufacturers produce larger amounts of lead as well.

Sulfur dioxide - Sulfur dioxide comes from oil and coal when metal is extracted from the ground. It can make air pollutants more harmful when it interacts with them.

What Happens to Your Body?

Not everyone will react in the same way to air particles. Some people, because of health conditions, are more susceptible to harmful air conditions.

Allergies - Allergies are already a nuance for many people. Air pollution makes allergies and their effects more severe.  

Asthma - Asthma is a condition that causes your airways to narrow, reducing the amount of Oxygen your brain and organs receive.

Irritated airways - Irritated airways are the least effect your body may experience from exposure to harmful air particles.

Dyspnea - Dyspnea is shortness of breath that reduces the amount of oxygen your body can take in. You breathe up to two times a minute, and each breath feels restricted in its intake.

What Can You Do?

Keeping yourself safe from airborne particles can be as simple as moving to the country, but if that option is not available, you can take charge of your health.

Get an inhaler - An inhaler can help your airways relax enough to breathe normally. You can talk with your doctor about the benefits of having an inhaler to treat your airways.

Wear a respirator mask - A respirator mask is a mask worn by professionals to filter harmful air. An N95 mask or above can greatly improve the amount of air your lungs receive.

Track air quality - There are numerous apps you can download to track air quality in your area to avoid exposure during high-risk times.

Final Thoughts

Air quality is something everyone needs for long-term health. Your body and your airways are something you should take care of for your lifetime.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic Clinic in Memphis, Tenn. 

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