Cushion your lungs
The effect that air pollution has on your lungs depends on the type and mix of pollutants in the air, the concentration of pollutants and how much of the pollutant gets down into your lungs.
High air pollution levels can cause immediate health problems including:
- Added stress to the heart and lungs, which must work harder to supply the body with oxygen
- Damaged cells in the respiratory system
- Long-term exposure to polluted air can have permanent health effects such as:
- Accelerated ageing of the lungs
- Loss of lung capacity and decreased lung function
- Development of diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and possibly cancer
- Shortened life span
- Those people who are most susceptible to severe health problems from air pollution are:
- Individuals with lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Pregnant women
- Outdoor workers
- Older adults and the elderly
- Children under age 14
- Athletes who exercise vigorously outdoors
Ways to save yourself:
Keep at least one inhaler prescribed by the doctor at home because the smog can cause sudden asthmatic attack or difficulty in breathing in people who have respiratory disorders. Talk to your doctor for advice if there is an increase in the symptoms.
While daily walks are recommended to stay fit, the open air has now become hazardous to health. IMA has declared Delhi’s smog as a public health hazard. The concentration of pollutants in the air is most concentrated during early morning and late evening time. It is because there is no sun to disperse the humidity. Until the smog clears and the weather becomes more hospitable, avoid early morning and late evening walks.
Walking exerts more energy which makes breathing faster and leads to more inhalation of toxic particles in the air. This would have adverse effect on the health of people, more so for the elderly and children. Avoid functions in open or in lawns during this period.
Wear a mask whenever you go out. Keep your eyes, nose, mouth and ears covered. While it is not a foolproof method to avoid inhaling pollutants, it certainly limits the amount and helps in some prevention.
What to eat
Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C should be consumed to combat the ill effects of Delhi’s smog. It is an anti-oxidant which helps the body in combating the free radicals which are produced in the body due to the presence of harmful air-borne toxins in the smog.
Avoid junk food
Do not consume junk food as it places additional stress on your body when it is already dealing with the hazardous smog in the air. Consumes fruits and vegetables rich in anti-oxidants which will help your immune system fight with the pollutants.
Home remedies to deal with respiratory issues
This smog may cause throat irritation and even facilitate the spread of viral infections. Try to take steam with a few drops of eucalyptus oil every day in the evening to relax your air-passages and help your body remove the harmful particulate substances.
Consume immune system boosting herbs like neem, tulsi and haldi to give your body the extra edge it needs to combat the harmful smog.
With inputs by Dr Rajesh Chawla, R Consultant (Critical care, Pulmonary and Sleep disorders)
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