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Asthma and climate change

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways that affects the bronchial tubes. When they are inflamed they produce excess mucus. The inflammation and mucus prevent air from passing through, creating the typical symptoms of asthma such as coughing and wheezing. Sufferers generally describe the sensation as being unable to breathe. Without treatment, asthma can be life threatening.

Asthma on the rise

In recent decades, diagnosed cases of asthma have risen dramatically. Between 2001 and 2009, the number of patients diagnosed with asthma rose by 4.3 million, according to reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Asthma is a leading cause of absence from school. Symptoms are often triggered by air pollution and allergies, and climate change may exacerbate the problem.

Climate change affects the duration of the seasons and contributes to more erratic weather patterns. These changes are causing plants to release pollen earlier and over longer periods, and to produce it in greater quantities.

Rising temperatures are also making smog pollution worse and increasing the number of bad air days when it is hard to breathe. This puts many of us at risk of eye, nose and lung irritation, but is particularly dangerous for people with respiratory diseases such as asthma. As the climate changes, unhealthy air pollution will get worse.