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Breathe Easier: Bangkok Smog and its Effects on the Body

Respiratory ailments can be caused and worsened by an array of factors, one of which is city air pollution. Also known as smog, this can cause everything from short-term allergy-like symptoms to more serious long-term health conditions.

What is smog?

In modern day cities, smog is a combination of several pollutants including:

  • Gaseous vehicular emissions caused by internal combustion engines
  • Smoke and fumes associated with industrial chemical plants and refineries
  • Ozone
  • Photochemicals; this is a secondary pollutant caused by the combination of sunlight and other atmospheric gases with vehicular emissions

Minor conditions caused by air pollution

When exposed to city smog, the effects include immediate allergy-like symptoms. This includes itchy eyes, running nose, or a tickle in the throat that provokes coughing. Smog also affects lung function, causing difficulty to breathe, particularly during exercise. Small particulates also cause inflammation in lung tissue, which leads to chest irritation and possibly pain.

Major conditions caused by air pollution

Adults and children who are more sensitive to air pollution, including those who presently have asthma, bronchitis, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), emphysema, pneumonia, or other lung and respiratory system complications, will feel the effects of city smog more than the general public. Short-term but potentially severe symptoms may also occur when exposed to city air pollution, including increased or worsened asthma attacks and the development of bronchitis or pneumonia.

People diagnoses with COPD or emphysema may experience exasperated symptoms. On the rare occasion, deadly conditions, such as pulmonary disease and lung cancer, can develop from long-term exposure.

Bangkok’s air quality index

According to the real-time AQI (air quality index) measurements conducted in mid March of 2015, most regions of Bangkok had AQI readings at or below 50, which resulted in a city-wide average of 50. Levels of 0 to 50 indicate good air pollution levels.

air pollution


Although just shy of moderate air pollution levels that have an AQI from 51 to 100, this measurement may be a surprise to those who may have thought that Bangkok is just another smoggy Asian city. On the contrary!

What if my child or I have trouble breathing?

If you suspect city smog is taking a toll on your lungs, feeling shortness of breath, excessive tiredness, or inflammation of your airways, consult with the experts at the Bumrungrad International Hospital Pulmonary Center, a comprehensive centre that offers diagnostics, testing, and rehabilitation treatment of the lungs. Services include, but are not limited to, treating asthma, bronchitis, COPD, emphysema, lung infections, and other lung ailments. Treatments options consist of the administration of antibiotics, steroids, bronchodilators, and antihistamines.

For more information, please visit the website of Bumrungrad International Hospital Pulmonary Center.

Editor’s note: This article is sponsored content from the Healthpoint blog of Bumrungrad International Hospital; it has been reprinted here with permission.

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