Pollution and asthma prevention: advice from the pulmonologist

LPollution in Italian cities, especially in the north and centre, is rising rapidly. Today Milan appeared as the third worst city in the world for air quality, with a score of 178, after Dhaka, Bangladesh and Chengdu, China. The data was collected from the Swiss site IQAir, which measures air quality around the world based on the US Air Quality Index (US AQI). The Swiss site indicates that the concentration of PM2.5 in Milan is currently 29.7 times the annual guideline value for air quality indicated by the WHO.

Asthma, children and adults: how important it is to do sport to breathe better

IQAir therefore recommends avoid exercising outdoorsOf close the windows in the houseOf wear a mask outdoors and of use air purifiers. TO this link it is possible to view the air quality of the place where you are in real time: https://www.iqair.com/it/.
But what other advice can we give, especially to those who have children or already suffer from respiratory diseases? We talked about it with the Doctor Paola Scarano, Medical Assistant in Pneumology at the IRCCS Humanitas Research Hospital in Rozzano.

More pollution, lower quality of life

The new report published byEconomist Impact confirms that the Climate change heavily affects the quality of life of patients with respiratory diseases. Not only worsening physical healthespecially that one respiratorybut also general well-being and psychological.

The results reveal that poor air quality can constitute an obstacle to activities that facilitate well-being of people. More than half of patients live in areas with pollution avoid outdoor physical activity and social interactions. Activities that could have a positive impact on well-being, but which must be given up to prevent pulmonary flare-ups.

The survey

Economist Impact, with the support of the Chiesi Group, sought to better understand the realities and concerns of those living with lung diseases, collecting their experiences through a survey conducted in June 2023 of 500 people in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. The goal was to explore the hypothesis of relationship between lung health, air quality and health inequalitiesfocusing on the views of people with lung diseases.

L’86% of those interviewed said they suffered from asthmaThe 20% chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the 4% chronic pneumonia, with numerous subjects suffering from more than one pathology. The interviewees were representative of the different income categories, with 35% falling into the low income category (annual income less than 38,000 euros), 34% in the medium income category (annual income greater than 38,000 euros and less than 103,000 euros) and the 31% in the high income one (annual income above 103,000 euros). 47% of respondents lived in cities, 33% in towns or less densely populated areas, and 20% in rural areas. Finally, respondents had different levels of education, with 29% having at most a high school diploma, 45% a bachelor’s degree and 19% a postgraduate qualification.

Lung diseases are increasing

The experts at asthmadisease that is experienced by 330 million people in the worlddeclare that now thepollution contributes to the global increase in the disease more than genetic predisposition. «It is surprising how in this century the preventable causes of death continue to claim victims. The weight of Chronic lung and respiratory diseases (CRD) is on the rise due to worsening air quality caused by air pollution, which in turn is exacerbated by climate change.

It is crucial to address the wider implications of the climate crisis on air quality. Dialogue will be key to diagnosing, treating and preventing respiratory diseases. Preventing these diseases is more important than treating them,” he explains Arzu Yorgancıoğlu, President of the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA).

The climate crisis is also a health crisis

«The climate crisis is also a health crisis. The report highlights the need to incorporate the patients’ point of viewie their real experiences in evaluating the elements that, together, contribute to the well-being of patients, and to take this into account in the development of solutions“, he has declared Carmen Dell’Anna, Head of Global Medical Affairs of the Chiesi Group. «Policy makers must consider that i climatic and socio-economic factors interact and can impact the health and well-being of patients. We at Chiesi are committed to promoting a greater understanding of the environmental determinants of respiratory diseases and to taking clear actions in this regard, which are not limited to just treating the symptoms.”

6 tips from the pulmonologist

There are many actions that every single individual can do to protect the health of their lungs, especially if they live in polluted cities like Milan. But for people, large and small, who already suffer from respiratory diseases, such as asthma, it is necessary to use some extra precautions. Here are the Doctor’s suggestions Paola Scarano, Medical Assistant in Pneumology at the IRCCS Humanitas Research Hospital in Rozzano.

1. Pollution detection apps

Always be updated on the air quality of the area you live in and this is possible thanks to the weather applications on our smartphones.
In this way we can limit outdoor activities on days when the air quality is worse due to an increase in the concentration of microparticulate particles or an increase in pollen and allergens.

2. Take walks outside the city at least on weekends

In your free time, prefer outdoor walks in the mountains rather than in the city, away from urban areas with high levels of pollution. As altitude increases, the risk of being exposed to pollen and other allergens decreases, as vegetation tends to thin out. Be careful, however, as even the cold can be a trigger for an asthma attack, so always protect your nose and mouth with a scarf to filter the air you breathe.

3. Get out of town

As far as possible, it would be best to avoid living in areas with a climate that is too dry. The advantages that can derive from living in temperate areas overlooking the sea are enormous, where there tends to be a lower concentration of pollen present in the air, removed by the sea breeze.

4. No to outdoor sports if it is too hot or too cold

Avoid doing sports when it is very hot and very cold. However, always carry an emergency bronchodilator medication with you to be able to take it in case of sudden onset of asthma symptoms during outdoor sporting activities, especially in the city.

5. Use the bronchodilator well

When practicing sporting activities, consider the possibility of the onset of asthma symptoms in relation to the environment in which the activities are carried out, considering triggers such as pollen and outdoor pollution, mites in gyms, ozone in swimming pools. Therefore, in these cases, evaluate the possibility of premedication with the bronchodilator drug.

6. Sports better in the early morning

Favor outdoor activities in the early morning, when the concentrations of fine dust in the air are lower than in the evening.

The WHO alarm

Also according to theWorld Health Organization (WHO) the health effects caused by climate change, in particular those due to the progressive warming of the planet, will be among the most significant health problems to be faced in the coming decades. The effects of climate change on respiratory and allergic diseases are numerousis known correlation between asthma and climatic factors such as meteorological variables, allergens and air pollutants.