Diwali is a few days away, but the toxic smog has already left the Delhi-NCR residents gasping for breath. While pollution control measures are in place in affected areas, smoke from firecrackers during Diwali festivities could aggravate respiratory health issues among a host of other health problems. Asthma, COPD, bronchitis patients rightly dread the Diwali smog as it can lead to attacks and flare-ups, making their life miserable around this time of the year. Not just existing patients, cracker burning amid severe air pollution can also affect health of those who do not have these issues. The toxic air can lead to new cases of asthma, COPD and other respiratory and heart health issues. Switching to green crackers or using eco-friendly diyas, adequate hydration, nutritious foods can all help one fight firecracker pollution. (Also read: Delhi-NCR air pollution: Yoga asanas and pranayama to boost lung function and beat air pollution)
“While the festivities of Diwali bring us a lot to celebrate, what it also brings with it are more concentrated levels of pollutants and particulate matter, such as those found in haze and smoke when fireworks are used. This rise in pollution along with the cold and dry air in the atmosphere due to the change in season, can irritate the airways and cause symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks. In fact, excessive, continuous exposure to polluted air not only worsens pre-existing respiratory conditions leading to frequent asthma attacks and COPD flare-ups but also can lead to newer cases of asthma & COPD,” says Dr Hemant Kalra, Pulmonologist, Delhi.
Celebrating Diwali safely amid air pollution is crucial to protect your health and the environment. Air pollution, particularly from fireworks, can exacerbate respiratory issues and harm the overall air quality,” says Dr Kuldeep Kumar Grover, Head of Critical Care and Pulmonology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram.
How to prevent asthma attacks, COPD and other respiratory issues amid Diwali celebrations and smog
“Ensure that you are able to identify as well as avoid possible triggers of pollution, by staying indoors or wearing a face mask when stepping out. This should be combined with a ready action plan prepared in consultation with your doctor, an inhaler by your side –in the case of asthmatics and taking regular inhalation therapy as prescribed by your doctor. Additionally, a peak flow meter can also be used to monitor your lung health and manage your condition better,” says Dr Kalra.
Tips to celebrate a safe Diwali and prevent respiratory issues
Here are some tips to help you celebrate a safe and eco-friendly Diwali while minimizing the risk of respiratory problems, as shared by Dr Kuldeep.
- Avoid firecrackers and shift to green crackers now. It will help by suppressing dust and are less harmful.
- Use diyas which are eco-friendly.
- Avoid physical activities during Diwali as it can lead to lung infections when inhaling deeply.
- Use of air purifier according to room occupancy is very helpful in this time. Controlling air pollution during Diwali is very important for health. Not only outdoor air pollution but indoor air pollution must also be checked and controlled to manage the situation.
- Keep doing deep diaphragmatic breathing and deep breathing exercises to improve lung health.
- No smoking be it active or passive should be encouraged during Diwali as it can lead to more inflammation in lungs.
Dr Prashant Saxena- Director & HOD- Pulmonology, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj share more tips to prevent respiratory issues during Diwali celebrations:
• Say no to crackers.
• N-95 masks mandatory for children and elderly.
• Speak to your doctor and keep the emergency medicine ready to use.
• If you are already a patient with asthma and allergy, you should take precautionary injections/medicine well in advance and keep your emergency kit ready.
• Windows should be closed and be opened between 10 am to 5 pm.
• Hydration and eating a lot of fruits with vitamin C will support your lung health.
• Inside house, use air-purifier
• Breathing exercise and yoga is helpful.
• Smoking coupled with air pollution will impact your lung health in a worst way. So, if you smoke quit or reduce.
• We still have time to check our lung health, opt for a health checkup of your lungs, and in case precautions are recommended by a doctor, follow the instructions.
• Along with a mask you can wear normal glasses (without power) to avoid eye issues like redness or itching.
• If your job requires long standing on the roadside or traveling in Delhi/NCR you must fully protect yourself from pollution, discard your mask daily and don’t reuse it, stay hydrated, and instead of junk food choose a seasonal fruit to eat.