Diwali, the festival of lights, is around the corner and it is always fun and delightful. However, there is a downside to it that comes with bursting firecrackers. It results in sudden changes in air quality, and pollution levels suddenly go high. This temporary joy of bursting crackers can result in dire consequences for people, especially those with asthma. Asthmatics have to stay extra careful during Diwali to avoid complications.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Kuldeep Kumar Grover, Head of Critical care and Pulmonology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, and Dr Nevin Kishore, Senior Consultant and HOD- Pulmonology, Max Hospital, Gurugram.
Why do people with asthma have to be careful during Diwali?
High rise in air pollution levels around Diwali can make matters worse for asthma patients. The bursting of firecrackers emits several harmful air pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and tiny particulate matter, all of which are easily absorbed by the respiratory system and can cause breathing difficulties and asthma attacks, explains Dr Grover. The smoke and fumes emitted from the firecrackers can irritate respiratory tracts, resulting in irritation and high production of mucus. These particles can also trigger anxiety and stress brought on by loud noises, which can also affect asthma symptoms.
Firecracker smoke and fumes can further irritate respiratory tracts, resulting in irritation and increased mucus production. Furthermore, the substances present in firecrackers cause irritation to the respiratory system. Additionally, anxiety and stress brought on by the loud noises may exacerbate asthma symptoms.
Asthma patients need to be extra careful during Diwali because of the increased levels of air pollution. The cold air increases the levels of viruses, which then cause upper respiratory infections and increase the cases of asthma, so it is advised to use your inhalers regularly, warns Dr Kishore.
Air pollution worsens asthma symptoms
Since the pollution levels are high during Diwali, asthma symptoms might even get worse. Airway inflammation and bronchoconstriction can be brought on by pollutants such as fine particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and other airborne irritants. This can result in increased mucus production, coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing. Long-term or severe exposure to air pollution can also result in decreased lung function, making it harder for those with asthma to control their disease, explains Dr Grover.
How to prevent asthma attacks during Diwali?
Here are some tips by Dr Grover and Dr Kishore for asthmatic patients during Diwali when the air pollution levels hit a high.
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1. Use of inhalers is recommended
Just like diabetes, asthma also requires control so you need to keep inhalers handy during Diwali when pollution levels are high. So, it is vital to use your inhalers as prescribed by the doctor.
2. Wear a mask
One of the best ways to protect yourself from the high pollution is wearing a mask. You should also avoid crowds if possible. Experts recommend maintaining a distance to avoid direct exposure.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Along with lights and firecrackers, Diwali is also a festival of sweets. Asthma patients should avoid consuming artificial sweetener and sweets. It is extremely crucial to maintain good overall health by eating a healthy diet and avoid indulging sweets.
4. Stay indoor as much as possible
If you suffer from asthma, experts advise them to stay indoors during peak hours and making sure their home have adequate ventilation through air purifiers. It is imperative to keep doors and windows closed to stop outside pollutants from entering the house. High AQI levels can trigger attacks. If it is too necessary to go out, make sure you cover your mouth with moist cloth if you have to go out.
5. Practice breathing exercises
Stay indoors and practice breathing exercises to increase your lung capacity. This should be a regular part of your life. However, certain breathing exercises can help to reduce the toxic side effects of pollution.
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6. Celebrate green Diwali
While taking precautions against pollution levels is one thing, ensuring that you yourself celebrate a green Diwali by avoiding harmful firecrackers that lead to smoke and sound. You can also reduce wastage.