Dealing with poor air quality

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
June 9, 2008 4:49:53 PM PDT
The heat and smog can take a toll, especially for people with respiratory problems.With more on coping with the air quality, Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

You can see the air heating up. In addition to the hot weather, it's the smog that can make us miserable.

"As soon as I step outside, I don't feel I can take in enough oxygen, enough air, and it feels thick," one woman said.

When temperature rises above 90 degrees, hot air traps ozone particles close to the ground. These particles are major pollutants.

"The air tends to be more stagnant, and the level of pollutants tends to go up," Dr. Gabe Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson is an ER doctor at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan.

He says this scorcher is bringing in more heat-related problems.

"Couple more asthmatics coming in, people who are a little dizzy and who aren't keeping their fluid intake up," Dr. Wilson said.

"I have medical issues, and it's really difficult," one man said. "I'm on my way to the doctor, otherwise I wouldn't leave the air conditioning."

Indeed, people with respiratory problems need to take added precautions because pollutants can trigger flare-ups.

The elderly can also have problems, as they don't easily adjust to sudden changes in temperature. Even children who spend lots of time outside must be careful, since their lungs are still developing.

The Epstein family decided to cut short their fun in the sun.

"This is our hour out, run around in the sprinklers, have a little picnic outside and then back inside in the air conditioning," Mrs. Epstein said.

In fact, this weather can be a problem for everyone, especially those who insist on exercising outside.

"The combination of high heat, high humidity, and bad pollution can tax your system even more than any of those alone," Dr. Wilson said.

The best advice on breathing easier is to play it safe. Limit time spent outdoors, and drink plenty of fluids like water. Keeping hydrated will help overall in dealing with the heat. Also, avoid caffeinated beverages, which will make you lose body fluids faster. And if you must exercise outside, make it a morning or evening workout.

Also, make sure your air conditioner filters are clean. If you don't have an air conditioner and need to escape the heat in New York City, cooling centers have been set-up throughout the five boroughs.