Air Pollution And Skin Allergies

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        <p>A recent study published in the <em>American Journal of
Epidemiology</em> discovered a link between itchy skin, irritated eyes,
and headaches with certain types of pollution.</p>
<p>French researchers studied the air's nitrogen dioxide, small
particulate matter and ozone levels in urban areas surrounding Bordeaux.
Bordeaux is an area in France where pollution levels are usually slightly
higher than the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The
research team collected medical case reports from SOS Medicins, a public
health-care network that makes emergency house calls. They concentrated
on the number of visits that are related to complaints of respiratory
problems including tonsillitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, asthma,
bronchitis, or cough, as well as conjunctivitis, skin rash, headaches and
asthenia, a conditioned characterized by general feelings of weakness
that are usually the result of allergies.</p>
<p>The researchers noted a 1.5 percent and 2.6 percent increase in the
number of visits for upper and lower respiratory diseases respectively, a
few days after particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide levels rose.</p>
<p>But what is most telling is the increase in doctor visits for other
disease. On days when particulate matter was highest, visits for skin
rash or conjunctivitis increased by 3.2 percent, while headaches and
asthenia rose 3.5 percent.</p>
<p>When ozone levels rose, visits for skin rash or conjunctivitis
increased by 3 percent, and 1.7 percent for headaches and asthenia.</p>
<p>Increased levels of nitrogen oxide caused a 2.8 percent increase in
visits for headaches and weakness.</p>
<p>We know that air pollution affects the heart and lungs. But, these
slight effects of air pollution on human health will likely affect more
of us as it worsens.</p>
<p>"Once you start looking at the entire body, we start to realize this
is not as benign as we think," says Neil Kao, MD, an allergist at the
Allergic Disease and Asthma Center in Greenville, SC, and a fellow of the
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma &amp; Immunology. "It's not just bad
for your heart—it's bad for everything."</p>
<p>Whereas allergy to pollen can trigger obvious reactions like sneezing,
the subtle impact of pollution may not be evident immediately. Kao
recommends staying indoors during sunny-but-polluted days. "As much as I
promote a healthy, happy lifestyle with lots of exercise," he says,
"there are certain days just can't reset your immune system."</p>
<p>If polluted air is affecting your health, here are some things you can
do to avoid it:</p>
<p>Check the air forecast –stay on top of high-hazard air pollution
days.</p>
<p>Stay indoors – staying inside your home helps, but only if the air
inside is less polluted than the air outside. Air washers, filters and
the like, can help rid the air of particulate matters. However, they are
useless against nitrogen oxide, ozone and other harmful gasses. So on
days when pollution levels are particularly high, keep you windows shut;
and on days when the air is clearer, let your home air out to decrease
indoor toxins.</p>
<p>Wear a mask – breathing through masks with an N-95 rating can help
cut help lower pollution-related headaches. Wearing protective clothing
like long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses when outdoors will keep
particulate matter off our skin and out of your eyes.</p>   <!--
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posted:7/21/2011
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