The Medical Minute: Asthma patients should consider pollution's effect

Apr 04, 2008

Scientific studies have clearly demonstrated the impact of air pollution in humans with chronic respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Furthermore, it has been shown that exercise can enhance the adverse effects specific air pollutants can have on health. Even markers of inflammation (exhaled nitric oxide) in the lungs have been found to be elevated in those who are exposed to ozone and competing in sports in polluted areas is expected to further increase inflammation in the lungs.

A study conducted during the Atlanta Olympics demonstrated that by reducing traffic around the perimeter of the games, there was a significant reduction in emergency room visits and hospitalizations related to asthma and other respiratory conditions. Similar studies from South Korea during the 2002 Summer Asian Games demonstrated reduced hospitalizations in the area as air pollution decreased as a result of restricted traffic in the city. This suggests that air pollution is an important factor for triggering asthma.

Not only can air pollution worsen asthma, but may even increase the risk of developing it. Studies have shown that asthma incidence can be increased in athletes who exercise in polluted areas. Researchers have shown a direct association between heavy exercise in communities with high concentrations of ozone secondary to pollution.

When traveling to China for the upcoming summer Olympics where air pollution is very high, susceptible individuals are advised to take certain precautions. If you have asthma, make sure you take all of your controller (inhaled corticosteroid, leukotriene modifying agents) and rescue medications (albuterol) with you and use them as directed by your physician. Bring a mask that has carbon, which can absorb pollutants. Avoid being outdoors for prolonged periods of time during days when the air quality index is considered poor. Also, do not forget your eye and nose medications since ozone and other pollutants can irritate more than the lungs.

If you are an athlete with asthma who plans to exercise when the air quality index is poor, make sure you take your controller therapy (inhaled corticosteroid with a long acting beta agonist or LTMA) and use a short acting beta agonist 15 minutes prior to exercise. If you are participating in the games as an athlete, always remember that "anti-doping regulations" restrict certain medications, so make sure you have approval before self-medicating your allergies and asthma.

Source: By Timothy Craig, Penn State

Explore further: China punishes hospital for operating room photos

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

French ecology minister slams 'ridiculous' log fire ban

Dec 09, 2014

French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal said Tuesday a ban on using open fireplaces in the Paris region was "excessive" and vowed to reverse the anti-pollution measure before it comes into force next year.

Easy measurement of the effect of fine dust

Dec 08, 2014

Fine dusts from industry, traffic, and households are omnipresent. Still, they are difficult to capture by reliable medical measurements. KIT researchers have now developed an exposure system, by means of ...

Cool Yule as Paris bans log fires

Dec 05, 2014

Lounging by a roaring fire on a cold winter evening may be one of life's simplest forms of pleasure for homebodies but this will soon be a distant memory in Paris as authorities ban wood burning.

US to propose stricter smog standard

Nov 26, 2014

Coming full circle on a campaign promise, the Obama administration will propose Wednesday to reduce the amount of smog-forming pollution allowed in the air, which has been linked to asthma, lung damage and ...

US proposes stricter ozone limits

Nov 26, 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced plans Wednesday to strengthen emission regulations for ozone, a smog-causing pollutant blamed for respiratory ailments affecting millions of Americans.

Recommended for you

Alcohol apps aimed at young

3 hours ago

Apps with names like 'Let's get Wasted!' and 'Drink Thin' have led a James Cook University Professor to call for Government action on alcohol advertising on mobile devices.

Proponent of the G spot takes on a critic

4 hours ago

Ashley Furin had a "very satisfying" sex life with her husband, she said. Then, seven years into their relationship, she had "an experience that rocked me to my core." They had found her G spot.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

THEY
not rated yet Apr 04, 2008
They just NOW figured this out????? pffffttt. Imagine that, pollution is bad for those with asthma. I would have never guessed.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.