Respiratory illnesses are illnesses that impact the functionality or condition of a person’s respiratory system, which includes the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs When there is an obstruction or infection of any of these respiratory organs, it can lead to a range of illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and pleurisy. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 3 million people die each year due to respiratory illness.
Lifestyle and environmental factors can significantly contribute to the development of respiratory illnesses. In particular, five distinct lifestyle and environmental risk factors are known to be associated with an increased risk of respiratory illnesses.
The first risk factor is smoking. The inhalation of smoke from tobacco is known to be an incredibly powerful irritant. Smoke from hookah, cigarettes, and other tobacco products can damage the mucosal surface in the airways and lungs, leading to a variety of respiratory illnesses.
The second risk factor is air pollution. The WHO has stated that air pollution is the largest environmental risk in the world and is among the leading causes of respiratory illnesses. People who are exposed to high levels of air pollution are at an increased risk of developing respiratory illnesses due to the inhalation of air pollutants including particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and ground-level ozone.
The third risk factor is occupational exposure. Whenever a person is working in an environment that exposes them to harsh chemicals, fumes, dust, and other particles, their risk of developing a respiratory illness increases significantly. Workers in certain industries such as manufacturing, construction, and farming may be at an especially high risk due to their exposure to these types of materials.
The fourth risk factor is allergies and environmental irritants. For some people, exposure to airborne allergens or environmental irritants such as dust mites, mold, and pollen can trigger allergic reactions in their airways, leading to asthma and other respiratory illnesses. People who suffer from allergies must take extra care to reduce their exposure to these allergens and irritants in order to reduce their risk of developing a respiratory illness.
Finally, the fifth risk factor is poverty. People who live in poverty are often exposed to higher levels of air pollution, mold, and other toxins due to their living and working conditions. These environmental factors are known to increase the risk of developing a respiratory illness.
By recognizing these five lifestyle and environmental risks, we can take steps to reduce our risk of developing a respiratory illness. Avoiding smoking, limiting exposure to air pollution, using safety protocols to reduce exposure to occupational hazards, reducing exposure to allergens and irritants, and addressing poverty related issues can all contribute to reducing the rates of respiratory illnesses around the world.