“You are what you eat” goes the old saying. But, in the present day you are what you breathe.
The human immune system is complex and experts believe that our immune system often has difficulty adapting to environmental changes. In these modern times, almost half of the world’s population lives in or near areas where the quality of air is getting poor. With an increasing number of automobiles, industries and use of chemicals in our day-to-day life, we are coming in close contact with toxins that are extremely harmful to our health.
According to surveys, automobile-induced pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter of less than 10 micrometre are linked to allergic reactions, asthma and lung diseases. Other air pollutants such as industrial waste and domestic pollutants like cigarette smoke or even cooking combustion products can produce allergic reactions too.
Although the word pollutant seems synonymous with chemicals, pesticides, smokes and automobiles, there are several bio-pollutants such as plant pollens and fungal spores that can cause severe allergies. Although, these are more dominant in rural areas, people living in cities suffer from pollen allergies very frequently.
How Does Environmental Pollutants Produce Allergic Responses?
1. Triggering Production Of Specific Antibodies
Studies report that exposure to pollutants especially Diesel Exhaust particles (DEP) coming from automobiles, increases rates of allergic reactivity and asthma due to elevated production of antigen-specific antibodies (IgE) and histamine.
2. Increasing Inflammatory Markers In The Body
Experts believe that inhaled pollutants produce reactive oxygen species inside the body. On low exposure these reactive oxygen species also known as free radicals are irradiated by the natural antioxidants present in the body.
However, high exposure to pollutants causes release of inflammatory chemicals which in turn in additional release of free radicals. Exposure to pollutants is also known to trigger the production of inflammatory markers such as interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-6.
3. Reducing Cell-Mediated Immunity
Pollutants from cigarette smoke are known to reduce Th1 cytokine activities. Th1 cells are responsible for activating the macrophages and fighting the infections. Reduction in Th1 function is linked to a reduced ability to fight respiratory infections and is thought to function in carcinogenesis.
Tips To Protect Yourself From Allergy-Causing Pollutants
The best solution would be to live in pollution-free environment. However, this seems practically impossible. You may not be in position to control the environmental pollution totally but can surely take small steps and do your role to prevent air pollution, and protect yourself from allergies.
1. Clean the Air Ducts Of Heating Or Cooling Systems
The filters and ducts of air conditioners or heaters can often get dusty and contribute to indoor air pollution. Make sure to clean them frequently and get it replaced occasionally.
2. Encourage People Around You To Quit Smoking
We all are aware of injurious effects of smoking on health. However studies report that exposure to secondhand smoke too is equally dangerous. Studies report that children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to get pneumonia, bronchitis, breathing problems and poor lung function.
Children who are asthmatic do not respond well to the medication if they are exposed to secondhand smoke. To avoid this, encourage people around you to quit smoking.
3. Control Mold Growth
Molds can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Keep your house clean and examine the mold growth on leaky faucets, roofs, and shower heads. Make sure to use dehumidifiers if you live in humid weathers.
4. Limit Driving Automobiles
The pollutants coming from automobiles are found to be the most dangerous allergens. Use your vehicle smartly to avoid air pollution. Consider carpooling or use public transport if possible.
Keep your automobiles well-maintained by changing the oils, filters, and checking tire pressure as per manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Boost Your Immunity
If you are living in area with high air pollution, you must take measures to protect your own health. Good health can be achieved through a strong immunity.
You must consume a healthy diet and manage your stress as both are known to influence immune system. Ayurvedic Massage is an effective natural therapy that is known to improve immunity. This effective full body massage therapy is believed to increase blood circulation causing increase in white blood cells.
This boosts the immune system and improves resistance power of body to fight against various bacterial and viral infections.
6. Wear A Mask While Riding A Bike
You are most likely to get exposed to environmental toxins while travelling. To avoid inhaling dangerous particulate matter, make sure to wear a protecting mass when walking or riding bike.