Many people find that they suffer from increased instances of asthma, sinus infections, and debilitating allergies during the cold winter months. This increased sensitivity in people’s lungs and sinuses can be directly related to the quality of the air that they are breathing. However, it is hard to know which is better for your well-being — staying indoors breathing circulated air or trekking outside into the cold for some fresh air.
Air Quality is Important
The air we breathe every day can have serious impacts on our health, both positive and negative. Ozone and particulate matter in the air caused by pollution can easily irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Conversely, clean air can improve your mood, reduce fatigue, and help you to stay focused.
Healthcare administrators promote public health through agencies like The National Environmental Health Association, The American Public Health Association, and The National Center for Environmental Health. The purpose of these organizations are to provide education to the masses in regards to public health issues in order to help curb widespread poor health. These agencies’ main goal is to help the public understand how to live long, healthy lives, and providing education materials on air quality is just one way in which they accomplish that.
While outdoor air quality often gets the spotlight with constant reports on pollution levels in cities or the negative effects wildfires have on the air, indoor air quality is just as important. In hospitals, patient recovery success can be directly affected by air quality. Both inside and outside of operating rooms, the air within hospitals needs to be carefully managed; in a building full of ill and recovering patients, airborne sickness can spread rapidly.
How to Improve Air Quality Indoors
However, it isn’t just hospitals that should focus on keeping their air clean. Even in the home, it is important to regularly check air filters, as old, dirty air filters can lead to a whole host of health problems. Keeping indoor air clean can often be overlooked because, aside from unpleasant smells, it can be difficult to identify when there is a problem with the quality of the air.
Airing out your home regularly, and remaining diligent about maintaining your HVAC system within the home are paramount to keeping the air within it healthy. Dust, insects, pollen, and mold spores can all make their way into your HVAC system, and once they are there, they can be hard to get rid of. Insects and mold spores can be especially difficult to manage, as the warm, moist environment of a home can be a perfect breeding ground, allowing the problem to quickly get out of hand.
While air purifiers can do a wonderful job at filtering pollutants within a home, managing the humidity can help to stop insects and mold spores in their tracks. Finding the best humidifier can be a challenge, as they generally only affect a small area, but when they are put into practice, they can lessen the effects of allergens and soothe dry, scratchy throats and noses. Though air quality in regards to particulate matter in the air is important to manage in a home, comfort should also get high priority.
Benefits of Getting Outside
Though headlines can often make the air quality outside seem a bit scary, it is still important to get outside for a bit of exercise every once in a while. Sitting inside all day is incredibly bad for you, and people need consistent exercise in order to stay healthy. While it can be hard to find the motivation to head outside to brave smoke or smog, the overall health benefits outweigh the negative effects, and modern technology is making it easier to keep track of your own health.
Digital technology can help people manage their own preventative healthcare, reducing the likelihood that they’ll end up in the hospital due to poor air quality or any other ailment. Fitness trackers can help people meet fitness goals throughout their day from step count to calories burned, and many come with built in apps to motivate you to keep moving. There are also apps that can help to track and manage existing conditions, giving patients insights into when and where they experience the worst of their symptoms.
Of course, if the air quality outside is poor enough that there are warnings about venturing out into it, pay attention. While a good hike can do wonders for your health, doing strenuous physical activity when the air quality has dangerous levels of pollutants and particulate matter in it can lead to serious health issues down the road. Be judicious when heading outside, and pay attention to pollution reports, especially in urban areas.
Nothing can really replace the feeling of taking a deep breath of clean air outdoors, but that cannot always be safely managed. When going outside isn’t an option, keep the air quality in your home good by keeping the air cool and dry to prevent the spread of dangerous mold spores, and make sure to clean and refresh the home regularly. Doing so will lead to a more comfortable winter — or really any time of year.