Asthma sufferers feeling pollution, hot weather

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- If you've been feeling kind of run down, air-quality officials are reporting higher levels of pollution in Santa Clarita, the San Fernando Valley and San Bernardino. Air quality becomes an even bigger problem in the summer. But there are ways to protect your lungs.

For asthma sufferers, pollution and hot weather are a bad mix.

When the temperatures rise, it causes an increase in ground-level ozone, which can constrict airways.

"They can cause bronchoconstriction, which is actually a squeezing of the breathing tubes," said Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, South Bay Asthma and Allergy.

Emergency room visits go up due to air quality. That's why health officials issue advisories asking the elderly, people with heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other respiratory conditions to limit outdoor activities and stay indoors as much as possible.

Marks-Cogan advises people to run a HEPA filter if possible, and to make sure all medications are up to date.

"You may need more of your bronchodilator, which is what helps open up the airways, and you need to make sure that you have that around," said Marks-Cogan.

The Air Quality Index runs from zero to 500. Once it gets over 100, sensitive populations like young children and people with chronic conditions need to be careful. So doctors say one way to know what the air quality is at all times is to download an app onto your smartphone.

"It just take seconds to check what the air quality forecast is going to be, and then the patient can plan their week, plan their activities," said Marks-Cogan.

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