Spring's in the air: 5 ways to take care of your lungsHealth | 06/12/2021
Spring can be a tricky season with sensitive lungs, especially in a big city. Keeping these tips in mind will help you breathe easier during this season – and smell the roses.
Flowers blooming and birds singing – the springtime with its colours and smells brightens our days all across Europe. While this time of year is certainly a sight to behold, it can also be a difficult time for people living with asthma and COPD.
The combination of pollution caused by traffic, pollen particles, and the density of buildings in an urban area creates a real risk to your lung health. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to better manage your asthma while appreciating the greening world around you.
1. How’s the air today?
Before planning your outdoor activities, it’s a good idea to check on the air quality you’ll find in your area using an air quality index. By ranking cities across Europe, this index gives you an up-to-date idea on air pollution levels in your area.
The particles or gases in the air are not always visible, but they can leave lasting damage on your lungs if you inhale them. It’s worth considering how much time you spend outdoors when there is a very high level of pollution or pollen count in the air.
2. Early bird can breathe better
These airborne particles, whether they be from pollen or other pollutants, can likewise worsen your symptoms so on days when the index reveals poor air quality, you could try to avoid “pollution hot spots”.
The Environmental Protection Agency manages the National Ambient Air Quality Network in Ireland. Air quality monitoring and assessments are made at many locations throughout the country. Details of the Air Quality Index for Health Map can be accessed via https://www.epa.ie/air/quality/. Paying attention to the Air Quality in your area may help you to plan your activities accordingly
3. Know yourself
If you can, try to get to know better what your allergies are, as some allergens, like birch are more prominent in spring while moulds are more prevalent in autumn. On high pollen count days, it’s important to use your medications to keep your allergies at bay.
4. Home sweet home
Staying inside on high pollution days won’t do you any good if you keep the windows open or if the indoor air quality is poor. To prevent any asthma symptoms indoors, be sure that triggers like excessive mould, cleaning chemicals or wandering pollen particles are not keeping company on you.
Knowing your personal triggers will help you create an environment at your home that keeps your lungs healthy. It’s often worth taking extra care for removing or reducing those triggers and allergens whenever you can.
You can also bring the spring inside by getting indoor plants. They help to produce more oxygen that’s good for your lungs!
5. Keep your inhaler close
While greater efforts are being made to move towards cleaner cities, getting people out of their cars and into public transport in order to reduce pollution caused by traffic, in the meantime, it’s important to look after yourself.
It’s always wise to carry your reliever inhaler with you. But during the spring it’s even more important to pay careful attention when taking your preventive medication. And last but not least, there’s always an option to contact your doctor if you feel like you need an asthma medication boost to enjoy the blossoming springtime.
Text by Courtney Tenz
Photo by iStock
D’Amato, G., et. al, Allergenic pollen and pollen allergy in Europe. Allergy. March 2007.
Guarnieri, Michael, Balmes, John R. Outdoor air pollution and asthma. Lancet. May 3, 2014; 383(9928): 1581-1592.
Havet, Anais, et. al, Outdoor air pollution, exhaled 8-isoprostane and current asthma in adults: the EGEA study. European Respiratory Journal. April 2018; 51(4): 1702026
Matsui, Elizabeth C., et. al, Asthma in the inner city and the indoor environment. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. August 2008; 28(3): 665-x.
The Environmental Protection Agency
World's Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index
European Air Quality index
Date of preparation: November 2023 / EASYH-670(2)
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