Hyderabad: If you feel a tightness in your chest or have a little trouble breathing during the winter season, you're not alone. Many people in the active age-group of 20 to 45 years are complaining of breathlessness despite leading a healthy life, not smoking, and not having any respiratory disease.
Pulmonologist Dr S.A. Rafi says he sees many young people who are exposed to chemicals that constrict the airways, having these symptoms. "It could be because they are working in industrial zones, moving around during peak hours in traffic without proper precautions and also exposed to chemicals in their homes," he said. Clearly, the bad air quality is the culprit.
There is a chemical concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as ethylbenzene, carbon tetrachloride, benzene, trichloroethane, xylenes, tetrachloroethylene, toluene, trichloroethylene, styrene and dichlorobenzene in the atmosphere and they are also in homes. These chemicals are ironically in products that are supposed to protect us: air-fresheners, insect repellents, cleaning fluids, disinfectants, cosmetics and deodorants, dry-cleaned clothing and even in new furnishings, upholstery and carpets. Glues, adhesives, permanent markers, varnishes, photographic solutions, copiers and printers also have these chemicals.
Dr C Vijay Kumar, senior pulmonologist at Apollo Hospitals explains that these volatile organic compounds (VOC) are also part of the outdoor pollution in the form of exhaust fumes, industrial processing units and so on. VOCs are the main precursors of the formation of ground level ozone and particulate matter. Together they form smog. VOCs have short-term and long-term effects on health, causing asthma attacks, respiratory problems, and sudden breathlessness. It's common for people living in high risk zones or travelling in peak hours to have a constant cough.
Constant long-term exposure to these harmful chemicals makes the human body susceptible to secondary infections and allergies. For this reason homes must not be completely closed all the time during winter. Opening windows and doors for some time to allow the air inside is important, even if it is not really 'fresh' air.
Old houses are often damp due to leakages, and wear and tear of the building. If it's very damp, fungus can grow on the walls and this can cause allergic reactions. Homes that are well maintained and dust-free will be comparatively free of these triggers....