The Impact Oregon’s Air Quality Is Having On Cognitive Health And What We’re Doing About It

08/10/2021 | News, Patient Resources

Oregon State is facing a real environmental challenge right now.

Year on year, the fire season has been starting earlier and lasting longer, and the smoke from the wildfires is seriously impacting the air. This impact is causing sudden fluctuations in air quality, meaning we can easily go from great to toxic very suddenly.

As you would expect, changes to our air quality poses some serious health risks, as air pollution is a prominent modifiable risk to our cognitive health.

That said, at Audiology & Hearing Aid Associates, we feel it’s our duty to inform our patients of these risks whilst also doing what we can to best help you when air pollution is particularly bad.

Why Does The Quality Of The Air Affect Cognitive Health?

Our cognitive health is measured by our brain’s ability to function properly.

We know that hearing loss is the number one modifiable risk factor for cognitive changes, but air pollution is also a massive one too.

In fact, air pollution is regarded as the largest single environmental risk to health overall, contributing to increased risks of cerebrovascular (blood flow to the brain), coronary artery disease, lung carcinoma, and acute respiratory diseases.

In addition to this, long-term exposure to air pollution, which has a high percentage of nitrogen dioxide, has been associated with dementia.

This means that the higher the air pollution and the more we breathe it in, the higher the risk of cognitive malfunctions.

Last year in Oregon state, the wildfires were so bad that we couldn’t see Mount Emily through the haze.

As many people don’t have central air conditioning systems in their homes (myself included) and instead rely on opening windows at night to cool down, the thick smoke in the air is potentially making this very unsafe.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself From Oregon’s Air Pollution?

The best thing you can do is download the Oregon Air App, which is a real-time air quality index for our state; it tells you exactly what the air quality is in any given location, ranging from good to hazardous.

If you get into a habit of checking it regularly, it’ll help you know where in the state is safe and where is best avoided in real-time.

It’ll also help you plan journeys, when necessary, arrange alternative routes, and of course, help you determine whether it’s safe for you to go out at all.

Air-Pollution Friendly Appointments At Audiology & Hearing Aid Associates

As a team, we are all very aware of the significant risks venturing out into toxic, smoke-ridden air can have on our patients’ health, which is why, when the air quality is bad, we have a process in place whereby we will gladly switch your in-person appointment to a remote session, should you wish.

Switching to a remote session is very easy, and you can either call us or use this form to schedule it yourself, or if the air quality is particularly bad on the days leading up to your appointment, we will call you to let you know the remote session is an available alternative.

If you do decide to come into our office for your appointment, then please be aware that we do not have a waiting room, so please call us as soon as you arrive so we can get you straight into your room, which has air purifiers to keep the air clean.

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Erika Shakespeare CCC-A

Erika Shakespeare, CCC-A, specializes in pediatric and adult diagnostics and amplification. Working with adults to help manage tinnitus and hearing loss since 2002, she is an expert in both of these areas. Additionally, she is a pediatric audiology mentor and educator for pediatric audiologists across the country and is one of the most respected experts on pediatric audiology.

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