Pollution: Controlling Damage to the Respiratory System


The long-term effects of air pollution include serious diseases such as cancer. Extremely polluted city air gradually turns our healthy, pink-colored lung tissues into dark particles of smoke, dust, and other pollutants, making the lungs more vulnerable to infection. The highly sensitive respiratory system can be damaged in a number of ways.

Environmental pollution: One of the powerful dangers is environmental pollution. Ambient smoke contains many chemicals. Many of these chemicals are depleted by vehicles and industries. In addition, some household cleaning products also emit such toxic gases.

Cigarette smoke: This is another dangerous emission. Passive smokers are the most affected. Burning fags pose a serious threat to our respiratory system. Tobacco smoke contains more than 40 chemicals, including dangerous tar. Many of these are known causes of cancer. About 90 percent of lung cancer cases among men and more than 70 percent among women were attributed to smoking.

Besides tar, other chemicals enter our lungs from a burning cigarette. The tar of a single cigarette temporarily immobilizes the cilia of the upper and lower respiratory tract. Tar also temporarily paralyzes macrophages in the lung alveoli. When the cleaning and filtering functions are disabled, the lungs and airways become open to different particles, viruses and bacteria other than tar in the air.

These substances settle in the mucous layers of the lungs. It takes almost an hour for paralyzed eyelashes to heal. However, repeated paralysis of heated tar eventually kills them. Mucus forms as a result of repeated smoking. The accumulated mucus blocks the smaller air passages. Congestion triggers “smoker’s cough”. This familiar reflex cough is an effort to clear the airways of the distressed lung.

Indoor air pollution: This is one of the most dangerous but often overlooked dangers. Offices and homes are often the root cause of indoor air pollution. Furniture and synthetic carpets, certain building materials and even air fresheners as well as many cleaning agents emit dangerous gases. These remain highly concentrated in unventilated or AC rooms. The most vulnerable segments of people exposed to these respiratory hazards are children, the elderly, and those with a history of respiratory illness. These people usually spend most of their time within four walls. Indoor air pollutants not only weaken our lungs but also invite infections.

Occupational risks: Many professionals are exposed to impurities released daily through their activities. These workers are at high risk of contracting respiratory diseases. Mention can be made of people who pick cotton, those who work on farms or shipyards, and repairmen who install brake insulation or linings. Other people who suffer from such risks include miners, construction workers, quarry workers, stone cutters and sandblasters.


All governments have independent agencies to monitor pollution levels. There are also non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that carry out this activity. For example, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in the USA issues regulations for the protection of workers. He made it mandatory to wear a filtered air mask for some jobs. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) monitors and regulates pollutants released into the air by different organizations and industries. Despite such efforts, various respiratory diseases have been on the rise worldwide.


Any part of the respiratory tract can be affected by respiratory system disorders and diseases. Although common ailments of the respiratory system are minor, they can sometimes be life-threatening.

Common cold, runny nose and stuffy nose: Viruses target the pharynx and nasal passages, causing the common cold. First, viruses infiltrate the body through the respiratory system. They then target cells in the nasal passage membranes. But before it destroys the cells, the body’s immune system fights. The immune system increases blood flow to the area. This strengthening of white blood cells leads to swelling of the membranes. This causes nasal congestion. An increase in mucus secretions to neutralize the viral attack leads to a runny nose. Not to mention, the infection can affect the sinuses – the membrane-lined cavities located inside the head, as well as the middle ear and lower respiratory tract.

Hay fever and asthma: These are allergic reactions of the respiratory system. These conditions occur when the immune system is irritated by irritants such as dust or pollen. Symptoms of hay fever are sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose. It is a seasonal reaction when there is plenty of pollen in the air. Asthma attacks are usually mild. However, they can also be life-threatening. A person with asthma has difficulty breathing. It occurs when the bronchi and bronchioles become inflamed and temporarily narrowed.

Laryngitis: Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. Laryngitis is caused by various factors. They can be as diverse as overuse of the voice, cigarette smoke, or viral infection. Laryngitis has different effects on the voice. Until the inflammation subsides, it can either become muffled or turn into a whisper.

Bronchitis: Bronchitis means inflammation of the membranes. The membranes lining the bronchioles or bronchi become inflamed. Bronchitis occurs due to bacterial or viral infection. Bronchitis can also be from irritating chemicals.

Pneumonia: This infection of the alveoli is caused by viruses or bacteria. Pneumonia is a potentially serious condition of the lungs. In pneumonia, the alveoli become inflamed after fluid builds up. This collection of fluid and the resulting inflammation inhibits the flow of carbon dioxide and oxygen between the alveoli and capillaries.

Tuberculosis: Also known as TB, it is caused by the tuberculosis bacteria. The lungs are primarily attacked in TB. Sometimes other body tissues are also affected. Unaddressed, lung infection can even destroy lung tissues. Previously, tuberculosis was controlled with antibiotics. However, the bacterium has developed an antibiotic-resistant strain that poses a serious health problem.

Emphysema: This non-infectious disease affects the alveolar tissue and is partially destroyed. The remaining alveoli enlarge and weaken. During exhalation, the bronchioles collapse. As a result, air remains trapped inside the alveoli. In the long run, emphysema affects the patient’s ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. The circulatory system doesn’t work either. This causes breathing problems. Emphysema can also occur due to genetic factors other than infection, smoke, smoke and cigarettes.

Lung cancer: The main agents causing cancer are uranium, asbestos and tobacco smoke. Genetic causes can also cause cancer. Respiratory cancerous tumors form in the lung tissue (alveolar), bronchioles, or bronchi. Early detection of such tumors can stop their progression to other parts of the body. Then the treatments are more effective and the prognosis for recovery is quite good. Unfortunately, 85 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed at a later stage, when the tumors have already spread. In such extreme cases, the prognosis is poor.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Also called RDS. Dysfunction refers to a cluster of symptoms. All of them indicate serious deterioration of the lungs.

IRDS: Premature babies may have Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome (IRDS). IRDS occurs when the alveoli do not fully expand during inhalation. Alveolar enlargement needs a chemical called surfactant. However, in premature infants, immature alveoli cannot produce enough surfactant. Common treatment for IRDS is the administration of air and surfactant through a breathing tube. This application allows the alveoli to produce surfactant.

ARDS: Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) occurs when the lungs are severely injured. Many automobile accidents, toxic gases or lung inflammation can cause such a dysfunction. ARDS patients often have to struggle for survival with a survival rate of 50 percent.


Many traditional and alternative health systems such as Yoga, Ayurveda, Unani, and Homeopathy have a variety of tools to treat different respiratory disorders. Yoga has simple breathing exercises called ‘Pranayam’ with proven track record. Other alternative health systems such as Ayurveda, Unani, and homeopathy also have viable strategies to effectively treat respiratory diseases.

Before resorting to any of them, however, experts in these systems should be consulted. Obviously, some disgusting habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol must be given up to achieve optimum results. This applies to any treatment.

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