People are spending more and more time indoors and, because of this, we’re starting to see more people suffering from serious health problems. People who suffer from lung problems will be at risk, of course. What you may not realize is that healthy people — including children and pregnant women — are also at risk.
Poor indoor air quality can be caused by mold, pollens, dirty air conditioners, poor ventilation, tobacco smoke, and carbon monoxide. As for diseases and conditions, these are a few of them that can crop up as a result of poor indoor air quality.
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Pneumonia mostly starts as a bad cough and worsens from there. In the elderly, confusion is often the first symptom, and children do not always develop a cough.
When it’s neither bacterial or viral, it’s caused by breathing in mold. Pneumonia is often diagnosed with X-rays and treated with antibiotics and fluids. Interestingly, breastfeeding seems to reduce the risk and severity in babies.
Strokes occur when blood cannot reach part of the brain. This cutoff to the blood supply is caused by weakened blood vessels or blood clots. Again, this can be caused by improper ventilation, particularly in homes that use solid fuels.
Children can have strokes, too, so it’s always good to remember the acronym F.A.S.T: The Face can drop on one side, they may not be able to lift their Arms, and Speech may be slurred. The T stands for Time because you need to call 911 immediately.
Unlike the other diseases, Legionnaires’ disease has a specific, well-known cause — the Legionella bacteria. It grows in water sources and is caught by people who breathe in the infected water droplets. This problem can happen in your home when there is poor ventilation or poorly cared for HVAC systems in place, since Legionnaires can live in damp air conditioning ducts. Cleaning and improving those systems will help considerably.
The symptoms for this disease are similar to pneumonia, so it’s worth telling your doctor if you have a large AC unit, air ducts, or water storage tanks where you live.
Lung cancer has many causes but, according to WHO, 17 percent of lung cancer deaths every year are caused by household pollution. This means cooking fumes and tobacco. Second-hand tobacco smoke accounts for a number of conditions by itself, including pneumonia, meningitis, and even SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
What Can You Do?
Improving the ventilation in your home is one easy way you can improve the indoor air quality. Make sure the vents aren’t blocked. Open up the windows when cooking, and make sure anyone who smokes in the household does so outside and away from children and pregnant women.
Additionally, you can get your AC unit cleaned and serviced to make sure it’s not part of the problem. It’s always best to have a professional check it over and clean it regularly, especially if you’re concerned about the quality of your home’s air. In the long run, following these tips will help you and your family stay comfortable and healthy.