Do you of late feel breathless and exhausted the moment you step out?
Well, it’s because thick layers of dense smoke and fog have invaded the city. As per the Indian Meteorological Department, this time round the smog — a harmful mixture of smoke, fog and air pollutants — has been thicker and prolonged in the city due to the rising levels of air pollution coupled with lower wind motion. While individually you can’t do much to correct either, protecting yourself from the harmful effects of smog is certainly in your own hand.
Pedestrians cross the second ring road as pollution reaches what the US Embassy monitoring station says are "Hazardous" levels in Beijing.
Who are at risk?
Smog is harmful for everyone but can be fatal for people with pre-existing lung ailments. “It’s particularly dangerous for ones with chronic lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis as well as for those suffering from coronary artery disease. For the rest, there’s a risk of chest infections, acute asthmatic attacks, heart attacks and even heart failure in worse cases,” says Dr Ashok Seth, president, Cardiological Society of India.
Symptoms to watch out for
Smog essentially damages your lungs and heart. If you are suffering from any of the following symptoms, it’s time to sit up and take charge of your health:
Eye, nose and throat irritation
Difficulty in breathing, coughing and wheezing
Worsening of symptoms for people who have lung diseases like asthma, COPD and sinusitis
Reduced lung capacity, feeling tired and drained out
Lowered resistance to infections
Increased heartbeat, headache
Precautions to take
Don’t over exert yourself, avoid rigorous work out.
Avoid exposing yourself in heavy traffic for long hours. If you must, then keep your mouth and nose covered with air filter masks.
Avoid going out at night in cold weather. If you have to go out then protect yourself well with warm clothing especially covering chest and head.
Do not lift or push heavy objects (like pushing a car) in cold weather. Running out of breath can be dangerous.
Do not go for early morning walks in extremely cold weather. Shift your walk timing to when the sun is out, like midday.
Keep indoors warm at night with heaters. Keep a flat bowl of water in the rooms so that humidity of the air can be maintained by evaporation. Use a purifier and humidifier to clean, purify and humidify the indoor air.
Get vaccinations against pneumonia and viral infections before the winter turns worse.
Be regular with intake of medicines, and check-ups prescribed by your doctor.
(Inputs from Fortis Escorts Heart Institute and Indian Health Organisation)
(Inputs from Indian Health Organisation)