Dr. Abhay Kumar, Chief Scientific Officer, Eureka Forbes Institute of Environment
While most people in the city are enjoying the nip in the air, there are some who are constantly grappling with this dreary season. Winters can be an extremely stressful time of the year for asthmatics and people suffering from breathing disorders. This is because even a simple cold or flu virus can be a potential trigger for a severe asthma event. In asthma, the lungs are already irritable and more susceptible. So any virus that affects the lungs has a propensity for creating and aggravating more problems, including a major asthma attack.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, the number of asthmatics in the country is approximately 30 million. Asthma affects 3 to 38 per cent of children and 2 to 12 per cent of adults. The Global Initiative for Asthma’s ‘Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention’ records that it claims 2,50,000 lives annually and the majority of deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where symptoms are more severe.
As winter rolls in and the temperature drops down further, people suffering from breathing problems prefer to spend more time indoors. However, contrary to popular belief, it is the air inside your home which is 10 times more polluted than the air outdoors. A host of airborne pollen and household allergens have a way of finding their way indoors during this season. In addition to pollen, closed and unventilated homes can breed dust mites, molds, pet dander and other household irritants. Considering asthmatic’s have hyper sensitive airways, inhaling these indoor allergens can worsen their breathing conditions and lead to a major asthma event.
Here are few tips that you can use to control and handle asthma during the cold weather months:
• Prioritize hygiene. It will help in protecting from viral infections that triggers asthma. Frequently wash your hands, it is one of the best and simplest way to prevent the spread of any contagious disease
• It is important to understand that indoor air tends to be very dry. Breathing in dry air can cause irritation and further block airways. Drink plenty of water to prevent your airways from getting dry
• Avoid smoking and stay away from fireplaces as it produces smoke that can irritate your lungs and can cause both short and long term health consequences
• Vacuum your home regularly and get it tested by an air quality testing expert to determine the presence of indoor pollutants
• Choose an air purifier with ultra-precision purification process that has double the efficiency of purifiers to eliminate sub-micron respirable particles and infection-carrying microbes in the air
• Make sure to consider the room size while opting for an air purifier. There are variety of technologically advanced air purifiers available in the market that offer customized solutions. Choose an air purifier with a recommended room size larger than your room dimension
Regularly clean and check air filters as they are likely to blow dust and debris in your home:
• Avoid using air fresheners or scented candles in your home as they can trigger allergy symptoms and aggravate existing allergies and worsen asthma
• Exercise is the best practice to follow and stay fit. Keep performing indoor exercises when it is bitterly cold outside. Swimming is very good for those who have asthma
• Make sure you take your medications wisely and continue to go to the doctor for regular check-ups in order to avoid your asthma symptoms worsen
• Lastly, always stay warm and cover your nose and mouth when outside on cold and windy days
Managing and controlling asthma during winters may take a little more effort and can be very distressing. However, with these tips mentioned asthmatics can ensure that their lungs are protected and can tide comfortably through this winter.