Air Pollution is one of the biggest environmental crisis that human civilization is facing and the irony is that we are the only ones responsible for spreading it in the first place. As per the research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is the prime cause of more than 7 million premature deaths. To help you understand the severity of the situation, we have compiled a list of 5 diseases caused by air pollution causes.
1. Ischaemic Heart Disease
Outdoor Pollution has a 40% chance of causing Ischaemic Heart Disease. The disorder is also widely known as Coronary artery disease (CAD) and involves the reduction of blood flow to the heart muscle due to build-up of plaque in the arteries of the heart. It is the most common of the cardiovascular diseases (Heart Related). The disease can be of various types including stable angina, unstable angina, myocardial infarction, and sudden cardiac death.
Symptoms: Chest Pain, shortness of breath and discomfort which may travel into the shoulder, arm, back, neck or jaw is some of the most common symptoms. Occasionally it may feel like heartburn. Usually, symptoms occur with exercise or emotional stress. The symptoms last less than a few minutes and can be improved with proper rest. Sometimes no symptoms are present and the first sign is a heart attack. Heart failure or an abnormal heartbeat is some other complications.
If you wish to avoid CAD risk then eating a healthy diet, regularly exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking are some of the daily habits that you should consider doing. If patients are affected by diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, they should use the recommended medication. Treatment & Prevention have almost the same measures to follow. Additional medications such as anti-platelets (including aspirin), beta-blockers, or nitroglycerin may be recommended. Doctors may perform procedures like Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) or coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) in case of severe disease. In case of people with stable CAD, it is uncertain if PCI or CABG along with other treatments will improve life expectancy or decreases the chances of a heart attack.
While there is a 40% outdoor pollution responsible for getting a stroke, there is a 34% chance of Indoor pollution inflicting you with the stroke problem. A stroke is a medical condition where the poor flow of blood to the brain results in the death of brain cells.
Stroke can be of two types: Ischemic which is caused due to lack of blood flow and Hemorrhagic which is caused due to bleeding. In both cases, parts of the brain stop functioning properly.
A stroke is generally soon followed by symptoms like inability to move or feel on one side of the body. The affected person may suffer problems in understanding or speaking, dizziness, or loss of vision to one side. A mini-stroke AKA transient ischemic attack (TIA) will show symptoms for about an hour or two. A hemorrhagic stroke will give a severe headache. Further, in the long term, the patient may face complications like pneumonia or loss of bladder control.
People with high blood pressure have a high risk of getting stroke easily. Further, tobacco addicts, smokers, obese, high cholesterol, diabetics are prone to easily get stroke problems.
One should focus on decreasing above mentioned risk factors. Further, prescribed dosages of aspirin, statins, and a surgery to open up the arteries to the brain where there is problematic narrowing, and warfarin the ones with atrial fibrillation are some of the solutions. Further, if an ischemic stroke is detected within three to four and a half hours, it can be treated with a medication such as Asprin to help break down the clot. Hemorrhagic strokes, on the other hand, can be benefitted from surgery.
3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (11% Outdoor & 22% Indoor)
While 11% of outdoor pollution is responsible for COPD, 22% of Indoor pollution results in COPD problems in individuals. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a type of obstructive lung disease. The affected person suffers long-term breathing problems, poor airflow to respiratory organs, shortness of breath and cough with sputum production. COPD is a progressive disease which means it typically worsens over time.
Daily activities like walking or even basic activities like getting dressed may become difficult. The disease is prone to occur to those with such a cough problem. Poorly vented heating and cooking fires & emissions coming from vehicles & industries are some of the prime causes of COPD. People getting exposed to these irritants may experience an inflammatory/burning sensation in the lungs. This results in narrowing of the small airways and breaking down of lungs tissue.
Prevention: Apart from Air pollution, Tobacco smoking is another major factor which caused COPD. Hence, decreasing rates of smoking and improving indoor and outdoor air quality should be emphasized. There is no permanent cure for the disease, although treatment can slow down the worsening. Treatments involve smoking cessation, vaccinations, respiratory rehabilitation, and often inhaled bronchodilators and steroids. In some cases, long-term oxygen therapy or lung transplantation may be needed.
4. Lung Cancer
Outdoor pollution, as well as Indoor pollution, are equally responsible for lung cancer, with results being 6% of the time. Lung cancer is a malignant lung tumour where uncontrolled growth of cells takes place in the tissue of the lungs. This disease can spread in other parts of the body beyond the lung into nearby tissues. This is called metastasis. Primary lung cancers are also known as lung carcinomas and are mainly of two types viz small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC).
The most common symptoms are coughing which can be followed by coughing up blood with the disease becoming severe. Further, weight loss, shortness of breath, and chest pains are some of the other primary factors.
Like any other respiratory problem, this disease is also sensitive to tobacco smoking and therefore the same should be avoided. Although a combination of genetic factors and exposure to radon gas, asbestos, second-hand smoke, or other forms of air pollution are other primary factors too.
This is why about 10–15% of cases of lung cancer occur in people who have never smoked. Lung cancer can be detected through chest radiographs and computed tomography (CT) scans. The diagnosis can be confirmed by biopsy which is usually performed by bronchoscopy or CT-guidance.
In most of the cases, it is not curable yet common treatments include surgery (better for NSCLC), chemotherapy, and radiotherapy (better for SCLC).
5. Acute Lower Respiratory Infections In Children
3% Outdoor Air Pollution & 12% Indoor/domestic air pollution is the primary cause of Acute Lower Respiratory Infections in Children. The name is often used as a synonym for pneumonia and can be collectively used for similar infections like lung abscess and acute bronchitis.
Major symptoms include shortness of breath, weakness in the body, mild or high fever, coughing and fatigue. While these are very common symptoms which may be exhibited with seasonal changes in many people, it is okay to get a routine chest x-ray in case of repetitive or excessive problems for the people who have symptoms of a lower respiratory tract infection. Both the upper and lower respiratory tracts get affected by Influenza.
Since the disease is caused generally due to viruses/bacteria, it is wise to take antibiotics if there are indications of parasitic or viral infections. Acute bronchitis typically resolves on its own with time by maintaining preventive measures including avoiding smoking and air pollution.