Poor air quality is a challenge every spring, and it should be acknowledged

30.3.2022 Living with Asthma

Spring is a lovely time to enjoy the increasing warmth and sunshine outdoors. However, it can be a challenging time for those with a lung illness. Air quality is worse than normal for several reasons. For many asthma patients, pollen aggravates symptoms.

Small particle levels peak

Besides pollen, pollution levels also peak in spring. There are residues from energy consumption over the winter months, and a major contributor to worsening air quality is farming. Fertiliser and manure use in the springtime generates ammonium, which reacts chemically with traffic and industry pollution producing small particles. 

In the northern countries, dust from salt and sand spread over icy roadways start causing additional problems. Regions in central and southern Europe have suffered from Saharan dust this spring. Microscopic pollution particles attach to the surface of tiny sand grains, causing the formation of so-called dirty dust. There is also a combined effect between pollen and non-organic air pollution: one exacerbates the irritating effects of the other. Even Finland, a country considered to have clean air, suffers at times from poor air quality. 

Check your air quality

Alterations in air quality have been visible in the KAMU Asthma app. The app has a feature which enables you to track air quality in your area accurately and in real time. The information can be useful in determining when it is safest to go out. Best hours for outdoor activities can be early mornings or late evenings, but when air quality is particularly poor, preventive measures can fall short. If you still need to go out on a bad air day, it is good to protect yourself with a face mask. An FFP2-level face mask (N95 in the US) with a valve can be a better fit for people with asthma or respiratory insufficiency, as it causes less breathing resistance. 

Monitor your lung health

When there are external factors that can worsen symptoms, it is particularly important to adhere to medications as prescribed, or do a medication check-up if needed. The KAMU Spiro spirometer together with the KAMU Asthma app is an effective and easy way to monitor one’s lungs. The app reminds the user when it is time for medications, and displays follow-up information on lung function. It stores reliable information which is easy to employ when planning treatment with medical professionals.

Asthma + Lung UK has provided a 5 step guide on how to cope with high pollution days:

  1. Stick to your preventer medication routine. 
  2. Carry your reliever inhaler with you. 
  3. Check the pollution forecast in your area. 
  4. Avoid pollution hotspots. 
  5. See your GP if you’re getting symptoms three or more times a week. 

Remembering these tips makes it easier to gain the benefits from spending time outdoors. Let’s enjoy springtime safely!