by Jim Chevalier, M.D.
Indoor and outdoor pollution is an increasing problem in society, and becomes especially important for a patient who has asthma. Maricopa county has the third highest death rate from asthma in the nation, and pollution likely contributes to the problem. A California study in 1993 showed a definite correlation between respiratory complaints and ozone/sulfate levels in the air. A 1993 study from Barcelona showed a similar relationship for sulfur dioxide and smoke. Recent studies also suggest that even very fine particles such as dust may aggravate breathing problems.
The single most important indoor pollutant is cigarette smoke. There is a very clear relationship between parental indoor smoking and childhood asthma severity. Children in a smoking environment have a 65% greater chance of developing asthma than in a nonsmoking environment. There is some evidence suggesting changes in embryonic lung development in babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy or were exposed to smoke. Spouses of smokers are twice as likely to develop lunch cancer as spouses of nonsmokers. Other possible indoor triggers include cats, dogs, and dust mites.
There are some specific actions that patient with asthma or allergy can take to reduce their exposure to pollution and irritants in the environment:
Environmental control is often ignored as a means of helping control asthma. Environmental control can often reduce the need for extra medications and reduce the severity of respiratory disease and allergies, but the benefits cannot be minimized.
Posted in: Urban Environment