Air quality can impact your health. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a calculation of pollutants found in the air. The higher the AQI, the worse it is for people with certain health issues.
The government uses the AQI to track carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particle pollution dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. When counts are over 100, air quality is a problem for people with health issues. After 150, air quality becomes a concern for everyone.
If your parent has any of these chronic conditions, you must pay close attention to air quality. Keep them indoors with windows closed if the AQI climbs past 100. Set up an indoor air purifier if necessary.
Asthma is a health condition where triggers cause the airways to constrict. It makes it hard to breathe and a wheezing noise is often heard when asthma is present. Air pollution is a common trigger for people with asthma. Pollutants in the air that cause airways to narrow only serve to worsen the symptoms of asthma.
Chronic bronchitis involves inflamed airways. The airways swell up and may produce additional mucus. This can make it hard to take a deep breath. Tightness of the chest is also common.
Sulfur dioxide levels that increase make it harder for people with chronic bronchitis to breathe normally. The irritating gas can make the airways narrow even more than they already are. The body usually responds to the lack of oxygen intake by increasing the breathing rate. This worsens the already difficult health condition.
Emphysema is a health condition where the air sacs within the lungs are damaged. The damaged air sacs make it harder to take a deep breath. When ozone levels are higher, the body responds by increasing the breathing rate. With emphysema already making it hard to breathe, faster breathing rates exacerbate the problem.
Particle pollution can cause shortness of breath and cardiac arrhythmia. When your parent already has heart disease, exposure to particle pollution can raise the risk of a heart attack and cause chest pain. Your mom or dad’s doctor may recommend changing or increasing medications until the air quality is back to safe levels.
With any chronic condition, it’s worthwhile to have professional caregivers checking in on your mom or dad. They’ll appreciate having someone around for companionship. They’ll also like having someone to help cook meals and clean the home when they’re not feeling their best.
With worsening air quality, medical appointments may be more frequent. Have an elderly care professional available to schedule appointments and provide transportation.