Cold symptoms linger longer due to dirty air

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Northern Utah valleys continued to be bogged down with building smog, making it tougher if you are sick. Fighting off the cold and flu is not easy in the midst of strong inversion. 

“It gets pretty foggy and really gross, and you can’t really breathe really well,” Ella Kopinga of Murray said.

We’ve seen several stretches of bad aid with particulate matter accumulating to the “unhealthy” category on our air quality scale. Many Utahns say it didn’t use to be as bad, which is true, but population growth and more pollution are big contributors to smog. 

“When I grew up,  I don’t remember this. This is so sad for these youth growing up, who have to deal with this,” Carolyn Bowers said Monday.

Breathing smog means you are compromising your immune system, and it’s not just youth or the elderly, bad air is bad for everyone. Doctors sometimes see a lag between inversion periods and an uptick in patients, and that’s because the virus or cold takes time to incubate in our systems. Once it does, respiratory symptoms get worse. 

“You’ll have a harder time breathing, you might have more chest tightness, more coughing, it might take you longer to recover from that infection,” Dr. Denitza Blagev, a pulmonologist with Intermountain Medical Center, said Monday. 

Huffing in haze also prolongs your sickness. A typical cold or virus runs its course for about two weeks, but dirty air also inflames your airways which lets those stubborn symptoms hang on.

“Then they have that lingering inflammation. The cold and virus are gone but the continued wheezing or coughing or shortness of breath,”  Dr. Denitza Blagev, a pulmonologist with Intermountain Medical Center, said Monday. 

If your symptoms don’t subside, doctors say it’s a good idea to get checked out, because physicians can zero in on ways to help that inflammation. Also, stay indoors on bad air quality days. 

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