Air pollution and managing asthma in our cities
Posted on Friday January 27th, 2017
Air pollution causes 467,000 premature deaths a year in Europe, according to the European Environmental Agency. People in urban areas are particularly at risk because of high exposure to particulate matter (PM2.5), which are the small invisible particles which cause or aggravate heat disease, asthma and lung cancer.
For those of us with asthma, there is not much we can do about the pollution if we work and live in cities. If we have been diagnosed, the biggest contribution we can make to avoiding emergency visits to hospital with a severe asthma attack is to take the medication we have been prescribed.
A recent study by Dr Robert Morton from Sheffield looked at the impact of being good about taking our medications.
Dr Morton found that young people were motivated to use their inhalers 70% of the time vs 49% (in a control group) and required significantly fewer courses of oral steroids and fewer hospital admissions. So the message is: if you have asthma, use your meds as the Doc has prescribed to stay well, not just when you feel ill and follow their advice.
Easier said than done, and keeping track is a challenge.
To help make this a bit easier, we have just released a new version of our Activ8rlives healthcare and wellness tracking app with self-care and monitoring of adherence (whether you are good about keeping up your meds). Using a Bluetooth lung function meter, you can check the impact of pollution on you throughout the day. Using the BuddyBand2 Activity tracker, you can record the exercise you do and how many inhaler puffs you feel you need to take, or even times of the day when your chest feels tight.
The Activ8rlives4 app brings together charts of your lung function (Peak Flow and FEV1), your step count and your medication use for you to discover your patterns and your triggers – and high risk areas to avoid. You can create any number of events to track within the App and it is free to download from Apple iOS and Google Android app stores.
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