Healthy Living

When Summer Heat Takes Your Breath Away

Jul. 22, 2016

Sunny, sticky days surely make you sweat, but they can also hamper breathing—especially for children and seniors. UR Medicine Urgent Care’s Dr. Michael Kamali explains how ozone levels can be dangerous to your health.young man suffering in hot weather

A rising ozone level in the air can trigger severe breathing problems for people who suffer from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as for those who smoke.

Ozone is a dangerous gas created by a combination of pollutants from cars, industrial sites and the summer’s intense heat. The ground-level ozone increases on sunny days when the temperatures rise dramatically. Don’t confuse this with the protective atmospheric layer of ozone that shields the planet form the sun’s harmful rays.

Those who are susceptible to breathing problems include children who spend long hours outdoors or adults who work or exercise outdoors, and anyone with respiratory problems. When exposed to elevated ozone levels, they can experience the following symptoms:

  • Cough or throat irritation
  • Uncomfortable sensation in the chest
  • Inability to breathe deeply

You can protect yourself by monitoring news reports on air quality and heeding some advice on high-ozone days:

  • Stay indoors.
  • Avoid extended time outdoors between late morning and late afternoon.
  • Limit rigorous outdoor activity.
  • If you experience difficulty breathing, go inside and try to relax. If problems persist, seek medical attention immediately.
UR Medicine Urgent Care's Dr. Michael Kamali
Michael Kamali, M.D., is chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at URMC. UR Medicine Urgent Care has convenient locations in Pittsford, Penfield, Henrietta, Greece, Spencerport, Farmington and Newark.