Can't Breathe? Blame the smog!

Can't Breathe? Blame the smog!

Jan 16, 2014 02:13 PM EDT - Author: Amber

As January continues, so does the inversion and smoggy air. The bad air during the winter months in Utah is not only an environmental problem but it also causes serious health problems, especially if you have asthma, chronic bronchitis or COPD. 
A recent study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed an increase in lung cancer in people who were breathing polluted air. This study attributed nearly 233,000 deaths from lung cancer due to pollution worldwide. As of January 2, Utah's air quality was ranked among the worst in the nation. Next up, we'll be another international news story for our record breaking pollution in the air. 
It's no doubt that if you have asthma, chronic bronchitis or COPD you already feel the effects of the smoggy air. When Utah’s polluted air gets into the lungs of someone with a lung condition, it irritates the special tissues lining the lungs and causes a bad reaction. This is the time of year when doctors start to see many more patients with problems related to their asthma, chronic bronchitis or COPD. Doctors are able to prescribe medications to help with easing the symptoms of having complications from air quality, but what else can you do to protect your lungs during Utah’s "pollution season?”
Here are some tips to protect yourself from unhealthy air:
  • Keep your eye on the air quality in your area, day to day, by downloading this app by the American Lung Association for your iPhone or Android.  You can also visit the Environmental Protection Agency's website for daily air quality reports.
  • Avoid the outdoors when the air is too unhealthy.  When the air is bad, plan to walk indoors at your local gym or even a shopping mall.
  • Help keep the air from getting too bad by carpooling or taking TRAX to work or run your errands.
  • Don't burn wood in your fireplace when the air is bad.
  • You might think that wearing a face mask while walking or biking outside will protect you, but unfortunately most face masks do not actually protect you from the small pieces of pollution in the air (also known as particulate matter or PM 2.5).  Just limit your time outdoors as much as possible.
  • Use an air purifier in your home.  These machines are becoming more and more affordable and can offer a nice break from the unhealthy air in our valley during these times.  (Be sure to read the box as some can emit ozone, a serious indoor air pollutant.)
Having asthma, chronic bronchitis or COPD during these months of unhealthy air can be quite difficult.  Optimum Clinical Research is dedicated to improving the lives of people with these lung conditions in Utah by working on trials for better medications. 
If you have asthma, chronic bronchitis or COPD you could qualify to join a study and receive FREE medications, FREE medical care (including blood work, doctors' exams, and other testing) and an opportunity try a new treatment when your current ones aren't doing the job. Study participants receive up to $100 per completed study visit and there's no insurance required!  See what you can do to help your lungs and help future patients!
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