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Could Air Pollution Increase Anxiety?

Senior Editor, TipsHire

Air pollution is a serious thing, especially if it’s about our health that we are talking about. Unfortunately, we live in a society where air pollution is something normal and happens on a regular basis, from cars that speed on the streets to the heavy industry that pollutes the air with tons of chemical substances.

Despite the fact that we cannot always see all the air that is polluted, our bodies can still feel the effects of inhaling polluted air. Just think about the people that are suffering from asthma: for them, it is even harder to breathe the air that is filled with toxins. However, the most troubling stuff about the air pollution was discovered during the recent studies: the air pollution is able to increase our anxiety, in fact, it can heighten it very easily.

Air Pollution and Anxiety

The specialists that investigated this subject found out that the exposure to polluted air could easily worsen the anxiety’s symptoms. The study was conducted on 70,000 women that were part of the experiment. The researchers have focused their whole attention on how these women responded to anxiety, by comparing the results with the estimated levels of the polluted air that each woman was having near their home. The discovery was breakthrough: the women that were exposed to increasing levels of a fine particulate matter (called PM) experienced a worsening of the anxiety’s symptoms.

The researchers have agreed on the theory that can explain this thing. They believe that once the air pollution enters our body, this will make the body weaker and will slow down it’s ability to ward off the possible diseases. Air pollution may also worsen the symptoms of a heart disease, causing some other health issues, because if you have a hard time keeping a chronic condition, this could also mean that your anxiety levels are susceptible of raising again and again and again.

Pollution in the Cities

City life might be though under the aspect of the air pollution, and although we think that city life itself gives us the headaches, in fact, it can be the simple inspire of the air pollution. Most importantly, the air pollution that most of us are exposed to is said to be able to increase the risk of stroke and anxiety, especially if you’re living in a well developed country. One study in particular has focused on the link between the short term exposure to the air pollution and the strokes of any kind. The effects of the sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone were analyzed, in order to measure the particulate matter or the PM, and also the size of the fine particles. If you want to let the numbers convince you instead of the words, take a look at these discoveries:

  • the exposure of people to carbon monoxide increases with 1.5 percent the risk of stroke
  • the exposure of people to sulphur dioxide increases with 1.9 percent the risk of stroke
  • the exposure of people to nitrogen dioxide increases with 1.4 percent the risk of stroke

The numbers were especially linked with people from the low-middle income contruies, and also with stroke hospitalizations and deaths.

However, there was also stated in the recent discoveries that if the particulate matter is higher in the air pollution, this may affect one person’s neck arteries, narrowing them, which is something that can occur frequently before one has a stroke.

What are the effects of the air pollution regarding anxiety?

Well, a study from the Johns Hopkins University and also the Harvard University found out that the exposure of women to the particulate matter increased the anxiety symptoms with 15%. They concluded that the women who lived close to a major highway or road were much more likely to experience anxiety rather than the ones who live farther away.

So, if it happens to live somewhere near a major road, you should really pay more attention to the air pollution and how it can affect your health on the long run. If you suspect that an anxiety might kick in at any time, you should make an appointment to a doctor and require some medical attention. It was also stated that the risk of stroke and the increased anxiety occur in the first few days or few months of the person’s exposure to the air pollution.

We all know that anxiety happens to be one of the most frequently meet psychiatric disorder and on the entire globe, it affects pretty much 16% of the people during some point in their entire lives. Anxiety usually leads to lessened productivity and requires an increased medical care, especially because it is associated with one’s tendency of committing suicide.

Also, the particulate matter from the air pollution is possible to trigger or even to worsen the anxiety through a series of processes such as: oxidative stress, the inflammation of an existing health condition or the deterioration of an existing health condition. Once you inhale the particulate matter, which is also known as particle pollution, the small bits of allergens, toxins and any other matter can easily enter your blood and your lungs.

Once they are inside, they can damage the organs and the cells of your body. Also, another serious and dangerous fact about the particulate matter is that it is considered to be carcinogens. This means that they can even cause cancer. Air pollution is also linked to another series of health problems, such as: stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and not in the least, anxiety.

So, yes, it could be possible that the air pollution can actually increase the anxiety, this is why we should really pay attention to the zone we are living in and the air that we are breathing. Is there anything we can do in order to save our breaths and inhale a more positive air? According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, yes, there is something that one can do in order to at least reduce the toxins that are present in the air we breathe:

  • cut back the amount of energy that we use, which will also save our money and the environment.
  • reconsider the commute, which means we can choose to take public transit or carpool, and actually try walking to work or biking.
  • avoid the usage of the gas powered lawn equipment

We should avoid burning wood or burning the trash, because the soot is one of the major sources of air pollution. The gas fireplaces are a little bit better for the environment.

We should pay attention to the air quality levels from our city. Reading the local newspapers or listening to the weather reports might be a good idea because they often report the forecast air quality. This is good especially for people who have asthma or any other health condition, because when the air levels are unhealthy, they should really be warned to stay inside.

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