Breathing problems, such as asthma, bronchitis, COPD and pulmonary fibrosis, can be made worse with outdoor air that’s of poor quality, such as when pollen levels are high, air pollution sources are present or there are environmental sources of poor air quality such as wildfires.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a system used to warn the public when air pollution is at dangerous levels. The AQI tracks a number of different pollutants, including smog and particle pollution (such as tiny particles from ash, power plants and factories, vehicle exhaust and pollen).
People who experience breathing disorders should keep an eye on the AQI and weather alerts that may appear from time to time that notify local residents of air quality issues.
Allergy management and taking care of existing breathing problems you may be having involves more than just taking your medicine. You should also be thinking about the air quality levels in your home, where you spend a lot of your time.
Just as air pollution occurs outside, it can happen indoors as well. Any time you open a door or window, outdoor air enters your home. This may not be a problem if the outdoor air quality is good, but it may be problematic if your breathing is affected by airborne allergens, such as pollen.
Indoor air also has other allergens such as dust, pet dander and mold that can affect your breathing health.
On days when air quality outside is bad, keep your windows closed and use air conditioning indoors. Windows should also stay closed when pollen counts are high.
There are many things you can do to improve the air quality in your home and help improve your breathing health at the same time.
Keep it clean: A clean house may mean a healthier house, since frequent vacuuming and sweeping helps cut down on dust and animal dander. Vacuum carpets and area rugs twice a week using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter. Alternatively, opting for flooring with hard surfaces, such as hardwood or vinyl wood planks, may help cut down on dust and pet dander.
Frequent linen washing: Cleaning bedding, drapes and other items that are prone to attract allergens frequently can help cut down on airborne allergens.
Change HVAC filters: If your home has a forced air heating and cooling system, be sure to change those filters frequently. This can help ensure that dust and airborne irritants get trapped in the filter instead of being recirculated throughout your home.
Use an air purifier: When placed in the most commonly used areas of your home, an air purifier can help to drastically cut down on the number of airborne irritants that may trigger some of your most unpleasant symptoms. Look for models with ionic purifiers.
Install a dehumidifier: In damper places such as the basement, place a dehumidifier to help keep it dry and prevent mold growth. Also ensure that bathrooms, another common source of mold, are well-ventilated.
Let in fresh air: As long as air quality is good and the pollen count isn’t high, it’s a good idea to open windows from time to time to allow air to move throughout your home.
Switch on the hood vent: While you’re cooking, hood vents can be useful to remove cooking fumes, another common irritant for people with breathing difficulties.
If you have breathing problems that have gone undiagnosed, contact the pulmonary and critical care experts at Respacare to schedule an appointment at 732-356-9950.