Expert / 8 May, 2019 / Dr Tom York
The topic of air quality is one which is gaining more and more prominence; from the recent climate change protests to the new ultra-low emission zone introduced to tax highly polluting vehicles, it’s pertinent that Allergy UK are focused on air quality.
The latest figures from the WHO (world health organisation) tell us that 91% of the world’s population live in places exceeding air quality guidelines. In the UK, it is thought that 9,000 deaths per year can be attributed to poor air quality, the majority of these relate to respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD and chest infections.
Problems can arise from ambient air pollution from vehicles, farming and industrial processes but also from within the home from dust, animal hair and mould. Studies suggest that the levels of many pollutants can be higher inside the home. As we spend on average about 90% of our lives indoors, it’s important that we take action to minimise the negative effects that this could have.
The most common ways in which air pollutants can cause problems for you and your family is by exacerbating asthma and causing allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Around 1 in 11 children suffer from asthma and around 4 in 10 suffer from allergic rhinitis. The figures are only slightly lower for adults so it’s highly likely that someone in your family is susceptible to the ill effects of poor air quality.
There are various things you can do to improve the air quality both in your home and also in the wider world:
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For people who suffer from asthma or allergic rhinitis, dust, mould and pets in the home can be major sources of the allergens which worsen their condition. If you or your family suffer from these conditions, consider the following steps to reduce your symptoms.
The symptoms of asthma and allergic rhinitis are often very annoying but at worst can be life threatening.
For asthma, it’s important for you to be on the correct treatment regime so ensure you have an annual asthma review with a GP or nurse. Make sure you always have a Ventolin to hand and don’t delay in seeking urgent medical assistance if the symptoms are getting out of control.
Allergic rhinitis can often be managed with simple antihistamines and nasal sprays but if these methods don’t help, there’s usually a treatment which will, available through a GP or allergy specialist.
GPDQ can provide a quick and convenient way to see a fully qualified GP who can assist with any medical problems you or your family may be having.
By Dr Tom York, NHS-registered and private GP for GPDQ, the UK’s first doctor-on-demand app
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