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Blog posts tagged with 'air pollution'

Managing Allergies While Enjoying the Outdoors


Managing Allergies While Enjoying the OutdoorsEnjoying warmer weather outdoors can have many benefits to your health and well-being. With spring upon us it's a time when plant life begins to flourish. That means the air will be adorned with pollen and other particulates from trees, grass, mold, spores, and flowers that can trigger pesky signs of seasonal allergies, disrupting your outdoor enjoyment. With the right knowhow, you can be prepared to avoid all the sneezing, running noses, itching eyes, and other symptoms that are associated with seasonal allergies.

Facts About Allergies

Allergies occur when the immune system misidentifies a normally harmless substance as a threat to the body and it goes into defense mode trying to discharge that substance from your body. If either of your parents has allergies, you have a 1 in 3 chance of developing them, too. However, if both your parents have allergies the chances go up to 70%.

Controlling Your Environment

While it's virtually impossible to rid the world of allergens completely, there are many steps you can take to protect yourself and give your sinuses some relief. First, remember that even when you're not outside pollen and dander can still find you. Controlling your home environment is a key step to reducing your exposure. Allergens and pollen can stick to clothes, furniture, bedding, and carpets. Pollen activity in the air is usually at its strongest from 10 am to 4 pm, so keep the main windows and doors to your home closed during these hours. It's also important to know that you may be covered in pollen if you've been outdoors for any period of time. Showering as soon as you get home, washing your clothes on a regular basis, and vacuuming your bedroom and living areas will help keep pollen and particulates in your home to a minimum. The main theme here is maintaining cleanliness in high-traffic areas to reduce your exposure to allergens. You can also plan your outdoor excursions around the weather. The best time to venture outdoors is after a rainstorm or rainy day; rain can wash allergens away and significantly reduce the outdoor pollen count to help reduce allergy sensitivity.

The Many Choices in Remedies

Some people are capable of outgrowing their allergies over time; others will need to constantly be aware of them. Check with your doctor to ensure you are taking the right remedy for you. Some over-the-counter medications may raise blood pressure, while experts have also found that you can build up a tolerance to allergy medicines. Herbal supplements can provide a more natural means to managing your allergies than over-the-counter medications. Red magnolia, for example, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since 100 AD as a natural nasal decongestant. Often paired with red magnolia, xanthium, is another name for the cocklebur plant native to Europe. It has been used in TCM to help open up nasal passages to ease breathing. Another common home remedy is creating a saline solution spray to help clear the sinuses.

You Can Never Be Over-Prepared for Allergies

Millions of people are affected each spring by seasonal allergies. But by knowing your personal allergic triggers, checking with your doctor to see what preventative remedy is best for you, and keeping a clean and tidy home, you can be well prepared to deal with the pollen, dander, and other particulates that invade the air during spring. Don't let the fear of allergies hold you back from enjoying the outdoors!




Bad Air Is Also Bad for the Brain


Bad Air Is Also Bad for the BrainMost people living in or near heavily polluted areas often worry about the consequences of poor air quality on their lungs. What they may not realize is that bad air can also affect brainpower. According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Health and Retirement Study, older adults living in areas of high air pollution may experience decreased cognitive function and brain health. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering that in recent years, air pollution has also been linked to cardiovascular and other circulatory health challenges.

Study Results Consistent Across the Board

In a sample size of 14,793 white, African American, and Hispanic men and women aged 50 and older, people living in areas with high amounts of fine particulate matter (particles that are small enough to deposit in the lungs and the brain) scored lower on cognitive tests designed to assess word recall, knowledge, language, and orientation. Results remained consistent regardless of factors such as age, ethnicity, and existing cardiovascular or respiratory health conditions. The researchers found that as the amount of particulate matter exposure increased, scores on cognitive function tests decreased accordingly. A 10-point increase in particulate matter, for example, was associated with a 0.36 point drop in cognitive function score, which was roughly equal to aging the brain by three years.

Older Adults at Greater Risk from Bad Air

Although an exact cause was not given as to how air pollution directly affected brain health, Jennifer Ailshire, Ph.D., stated that “…older adults are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of exposure to unhealthy air.” Dr. Ailshire conducted the study and is a National Institute on Aging postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Biodemography and Population Health and the Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California. While there’s not much you can do to control outdoor air pollution, short of moving to a less polluted area, you can still be mindful of your respiratory—and cognitive health—by monitoring the local Air Quality Index. You can also clear the inside of your home of dust mites, mould, and pet dander since particulate matter can also accumulate indoors.