Public Health Expert Highlights Air Pollution, Hot Weather, Pollens As Asthma Triggers

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A public health expert based in Abuja, has highlighted air pollution, hot weather and pollens as significant triggers for asthma attacks.

The expert, Dr. Gabriel Adakole shed light on the intricate relationship between environmental factors and respiratory health in an interview with the media on Tuesday in Abuja, coinciding with the commemoration of the 2024 World Asthma Day (WAD).

Asthma affects millions of people globally, characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Symptoms range from wheezing and shortness of breath to coughing and chest tightness. While genetics play a role in asthma development, environmental factors can exacerbate symptoms and trigger attacks.

Adakole explained that air pollution, including particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide, can irritate the airways and worsen asthma symptoms, particularly in urban areas with high pollution levels. Studies have shown that fine particulate matter from vehicle emissions and industrial pollutants can penetrate deep into the lungs, triggering inflammation and exacerbating respiratory conditions.

Hot weather has also been identified as a significant trigger for asthma attacks. Rising temperatures lead to increased airway inflammation and bronchoconstriction. Furthermore, high temperatures can exacerbate air pollution levels, further aggravating respiratory symptoms.

Pollen, a common allergen released by trees, grasses, and weeds, can trigger allergic reactions in people with asthma. This can lead to airway inflammation and symptom exacerbation, especially during peak pollen seasons in spring and fall.

Understanding and mitigating environmental triggers for asthma are crucial to improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. Healthcare providers can educate patients on managing asthma symptoms and reducing exposure to environmental triggers. They can advise patients to stay indoors during high pollution or pollen counts, use air purifiers, and adhere to prescribed asthma medications and management plans.

Adakole emphasised that comprehensive public health strategies addressing air pollution, climate change and pollen management were essential to protect vulnerable populations, including children, the elderly and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma. Efforts to raise awareness about asthma triggers and empower patients to manage their respiratory health are vital in mitigating the burden of asthma on individuals and society. The first World Asthma Day was celebrated in more than 35 countries in 1998, in conjunction with the first World Asthma Meeting held in Barcelona, Spain. Participation has increased with each World Asthma Day held since then and the day has become one of the world’s most important asthma awareness and education events.

Racheal Abujah
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