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What are the Symptoms of Poor Air Quality?

  • Posted by: Owen Beard
Smoke in the air
Photo by Daria Rom on Unsplash

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean that the air is not polluted. This poor air quality can be damaging to your health. This article is intended to teach you how to recognise its symptoms.

Air pollution is a mix of pollutants in the air due to naturally occurring and man-made particles in the air. The poor air quality can be caused by the fumes in the city, waste from the industrial sector and so forth. Ground-level ozone is a common reason for air pollution in cities. This poor quality does not only remain outside in the open air but also enters into homes.

The Effects of Poor Air Quality

Regular exposure to poor air quality has dire consequences on the health of children and adults alike. The poor air quality can:

  • Irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.
  • Cause shortness of breath.
  • Inflammation and obstruction in airways.
  • Cause long-term respiratory issues.
  • Aggravate Asthma.
  • Negatively impact the heart and cardiovascular system.

 

Identifying Poor Air Quality – Symptoms

Outdoor air pollution is difficult to overcome. Smog and dust are visible issues, amongst a sea of more hidden air quality issues. Smog and pollution normally occur in cities more than rural areas, but much like the after the fires earlier in the year, dust and smoke can travel and affect people far away. Unfortunately, we  cannot fix outdoor air quality individually, but we can adjust indoor quality and you can make changes that will reduce it. You can find out more about indoor quality here.

Before going about making changes you need to identify if your air quality is poor, or to what extent. Let’s look at some of the symptoms:

Respiratory System Issues

Irritation or inflammation of the respiratory system is a common symptom of poor air quality. This results in coughing, soreness of throat, tightness of chest and can even lead to chest pains. Extended exposure affects the lungs making them weak and reduces lung function. There have been reported cases of people complaining about significant difficulty in breathing. If someone is exercising in an area of poor quality inhaling and exhaling becomes a chore and even taking deep breaths might not help.

Constant exposure will cause long-term damage to the lungs similar to how years of smoking causes lung cancer. The lungs can develop scar tissue and the exposure can cause diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and more.

Allergies Acting up

This is another unfortunate way poor air quality can affect us. Allergies can act up due to changes in the weather or seasons, like hay fever, or may also be because of the pollutants in the air. Those with allergies might react even more to dust, pollen and other particles in the air and cause headaches, sniffling, watery eyes, congestion and other ailments.

If you have allergies, then you need to consider the time they show up and when they disappear. This will help you be sure if the allergy is causing by the seasonal changes or any other normal reason or is it caused when you enter into your home or work. The latter is indicative of poor air quality in your home.

Headaches

A very common symptom that often people attribute to stress or a long day is headaches. But poor air quality can also result in headaches because of the presence of elevated levels of chemicals in the air. Along with causing allergies to flare up and respiratory problems it can result in headaches that will drain energy from the body, and result in watery eyes.

Fatigue

The headaches and other health issues can cause fatigue but it can also be the direct result of poor quality air. Many people might feel sluggish when exercising or spending time in the air of poor quality. Seasoned athletes and those used to exercise find themselves not functioning at their normal levels due to fatigue. They can even lose their athletic prowess due to not being able to work out in their normal routines. If you feel fatigued, try removing yourself from the area to see if you feel better.

Cardiovascular Problems

Poor air quality can result in coronary artery disease, heart failure, changes in heart rhythms and some cases even strokes. Poor air quality aggravates cardiovascular diseases and its symptoms causing them to increase. Under-oxygenation of blood is another consequence of the contaminants in the air. This further leads to chest pains, tightness and heart palpitations.

New Symptoms during Construction, Improvements or Repairs

Construction, improvements or repairs are another common cause of air pollution indoors. This is because it releases dust into the air which sometimes settles and becomes invisible to the naked eye. If you are doing any of the three activities or a close-by neighbour is, notice when symptoms of coughing, sneezing or other common symptoms of poor air quality develop. The purity of the air can suffer as a result of painting, laying down new flooring or other major upgrades. The chemicals and dust released can not only settle on the surfaces but goes into the HVAC system. The HVAC system will then circulate the impure air throughout the entire home, putting others in danger as well.

What can you do if you are experiencing the symptoms?

Poor air quality can have adverse effects on your health and the comfort of your home. While some symptoms may be considered mild at the start and easily are treatable they can quickly escalate. The long an issue goes on, the more money and time is spent trying to fix it. Even if the symptoms are not visible for you right now, it does not mean they do not exist. Precautionary measures are better than spending your savings trying to fix the ailments caused by contaminated air. They can be fixed quite easily as well:

Using an Air scrubber can go a long way in protecting your home from contaminated air. Air scrubbers were used for construction projects and made for literally scrubbing air clean. These days, air scrubbers for homes are available for purchase, or hire. The air scrubber will remove the pollutants from the air leaving it pure and safe for people to breathe in.

Other ways include:

  • Adding an air purifier
  • Wiping off the shoes on a doormat before entering the homes
  • Using exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to remove cooking fumes and steam respectively.
  • Ensuring fresh air is cycled with open doors and windows (assuming outdoor air is not too heavily polluted)
  • Having indoor plants can also help keep air fresher

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