When the air you breathe is polluted, it can cause symptoms such as labored breathing; irritated eyes, nose and throat; burning of the eyes; cough; and tightness in the chest.
To minimize these side effects of air pollution -- especially if you have heart or lung disease -- the American Academy of Family Physicians offers these suggestions:
When pollution levels are high, stay inside as much as possible.
If you must engage in outdoor activities, try to schedule them first thing in the morning or in the evening, after sunset.
When air quality is poor, don't exercise outdoors.
Avoid any outdoor activities that require you to exert yourself. Taking in more air also means breathing in additional pollutants.
Health Tip: Monitoring What You Drink
People with heart failure tend to retain fluid, making it important to monitor what they drink.
The doctor may prescribe medication to help rid the body of excess fluid, which puts less stress on the heart. While this type of drug, called a diuretic, may make you feel thirsty, it's important not to drink too much and negate the effects of the medication.
The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for what people with heart failure should drink:
Talk to your doctor about how much fluid you should have every day.
Carefully track how much you are drinking. Measure how many ounces each container that you drink from holds.
Monitor all fluids, including water you use to wash down medicines, as well as fluid sources such as ice cubes, fruits, ice cream and yogurt.
Do not drink alcohol, which affects the heart's ability to contract.
Limit your intake of caffeine and salty fluids, such as tomato juice and other vegetable juices.