Once upon a time, asthma was treated with psychotherapy. Let’s thank our Lucky Strike that with the vast increase of air pollution over the past 100 years, that isn’t the case today. If you have ever had an asthma attack, then you know a roshank test is definitely not going to make you feel better. Unless, maybe, MAYBE, the ink blotch looks like an inhaler. At least then you can point to the ink blotch and hope the shrink gets the hint.
Scary stats about air and health
The sad but true part is that the majority of us still know little about asthma and other illnesses caused by poor air quality. When one in eight deaths worldwide is a result of air pollution, this lack of knowledge becomes alarming. Even more so when the worst affected groups of people are children, pregnant women, the elderly and the poor. And when I add this next fact onto the big steaming pile of burning fossil fuels, the smoke will make you want to cry.
The list of illnesses caused by air pollution is hilariously long; from cancer (obviously) to asthma, strokes, heart disease and depression. Listing all the diseases here, would not only use up my word count, but it would also bore you to death. You’d be just another victim of air pollution and its wicked ways. Instead, I am going to focus on a few of them; COPD & asthma and stroke & heart disease.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 35% of all deaths related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are due to air pollution and one in twenty people have asthma, which means that you probably know someone who has it. As you might think, the biology of COPD and asthma is very unappealing.
People with COPD often have a chronic cough and tend to say that "I feel out of breath" or "I can't get enough air in". When you have asthma your mucous membranes are chronically inflamed, causing swelling and overproduction of mucus which obstructs your airways, decreasing airflow to the lungs. Your breathing requires effort, sometimes, a lot of effort.
Stroke and heart disease
Heart disease is another topic of conversation in which pollutants clog up arteries and kill heart tissue because of oxygen deprivation. Not only will air pollution cause higher blood pressure, but it will also increase your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
This might sound surprising, but the majority of premature deaths coming from air pollution is due to ischaemic heart disease and strokes. WHO actually estimated that as much as 27% of all heart diseases and 34% of all strokes are attributed to air pollution.
Air pollution, the invisible killer
Air pollution is essentially an invisible killer. Slowly turning into a zombie inside step by step... Cough by cough...
All this talk of zombies and mucus is such as shame, because breathing clean air cleanses the lungs, improves digestion and even increases your serotonin levels. I hope you do something about your health. But, in the meantime, I have a date to go on.