BY DR. KHOOBSURAT NAJMA
How is Smog harmful to health?
Smog contains a health-harming pollutant called ozone. Elevated levels of ozone have been shown to cause a variety of negative health effects in the lungs. Smog affects everyone differently, and some people are especially at risk. These include children, seniors, and people with asthma/ lung diseases. Smog can cause the following:
- Coughing and throat/chest irritation: High levels of ozone can irritate your respiratory system. Generally, these types of mild symptoms only last for a few hours after you’ve been exposed to smog. However, ozone can continue to harm your lungs even after symptoms disappear.
- Worsening of asthma symptoms: If you suffer from asthma, being exposed to high levels of ozone from smog can trigger asthma attacks.
- Difficulty breathing and lung damage: Because of ozone’s effect on lung function, smog can make it feel difficult to breathe deeply, especially during exercise. Research has shown that ozone exposure can also damage the lining of your lungs.
- Fatigue: prolonged exposure to smog can cause fatigue, tiredness and headache
- Eye/nose irritation: the irritants in the smog can cause sneezing, watery eyes, itching in eyes and running nose
- The ozone in smog also affects plants growth and can cause widespread damage to crops and forest, and the haze reduces visibility.
What Precautions can you take?
- If you suffer from a respiratory problem avoid going outdoors as much as you can.
- Reschedule or plan outdoor activities for early in the morning or late in the day when pollutant levels are relatively lower.
- Avoid exercising near places with heavy traffic, especially during peak hours.
- Always keep a handkerchief nearby. It helps a lot in keeping the smoke away. It you go out, wear a mask.
- If you have asthma, carry your inhaler with you at all times. Asthma attack can get precipitated by smoke. Ginger, garlic and many simple home remedies can help relieve Asthma symptoms.
- If you develop symptoms like persistent cough, running nose, headache, consult a doctor.
- People with asthma can increase their medication and should immediately consult their doctor if their symptoms worsen.