Come Diwali, India’s most popular festival, and firecrackers go pop, releasing toxic fumes into the air. It is also a time of duress for those who have chronic pulmonary disorders, asthma and other respiratory issues. Asthmatics may have the following symptoms: coughing, wheezing, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath.
Moreover, people infected with or vulnerable to Covid-19 are at greater risk from firecracker fumes. A study by Harvard University and another published in the ‘Cardiovascular Research’ journal states that exposure to air pollution increases the risk of mortality and severe symptoms of Covid-19.
Though pandemic-led restrictions curbed firecracker use during the festival, it wasn’t enough to help lakhs of Indians. Affected by Covid-19, they continue to experience Long-Covid-19 Syndrome and are vulnerable to aggravated respiratory issues.
So here is how to protect yourself from air pollution during Diwali:
* Avoid lighting candles and diyas indoors, which will keep indoor pollution in check. Opt for sustainable LED lights as they do not release particulate matter.
* Avoid places where people are bursting firecrackers so you do not inhale the fumes.
* Wear a face mask outdoors. Choose an anti-pollution face mask that can block fumes from entering the respiratory system.
* To avoid feeling too suffocated, stay indoors with the air conditioner on.
* Consider buying an air purifier if you stay in a place with poor air quality. Air purifiers filter out the pollutants, toxins and allergens from indoor air.
* If you have a pre-existing respiratory condition, keep your emergency medicines, nebulisers and other medical kits handy at all times. Take your medication, if any, without fail.
* If you are asthmatic or suffer from respiratory illness, keep a rescue inhaler with you all the time.
* Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Nutritious food may improve your overall health.
* Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and prevent hyperacidity.
* If you have a persistent cough, wheezing, or breathlessness, do reach out to a doctor and avoid coming in contact with your family members.
Celebrate the spirit of Diwali without flouting Covid-19 rules and fireworks-related guidelines. This could go a long way in keeping the air clean and significantly help people around you.
(The writer is Director-Internal Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital)
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