HEALTH

How the Haze is Hurting Your Body?

More hazy news. PSI reading was 321 at 10pm last night. This is the worst and highest PSI reading in Singapore’s history as fires continue to rage in Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

News in the media states that the Indonesia government plans to “make rain” to dampen the smog, also referred to as ‘cloud seeding’. This is done by dispatching helicopters in the sky to “inject” chemicals into clouds, which cause the formation of heavy ice crystals, and induce rain. How is this natural and safe to the environment and human health on the long-term….who knows.

Cloud Seeding Process

Even more bad news. According to Indonesia’s disaster management agency, helicopters will be dispatched by Friday. At the earliest. To top things off, for cloud seeding to work, clouds must be present. Argh.

So as we wait for any action to mitigate this polluting atmospheric condition, the intense amount of air pollutants we inhale can trigger underlying and pre-existing health conditions, affecting the body in many ways.

Photo source: Open Knowledge

Don’t waste time waiting for the governments to do something. Be vigilant. You need to know how the haze is hurting you and your family so that you can better protect your health.

Airways & Lungs
Toxic particles in the air can cause inflammation of your airways and lungs as you inhale. It will cause your airways and lungs to produce phlegm as a defense mechanism to try get rid of the particles. The airways may also provoke coughing to expel of these toxic particles introduced in your body.  

How? Go to the pharmacy and buy a decongestant. Choose one that treats minor symptoms of sneezing, nasal congestion and running nose.

Skin
Those with sensitive skin or skin conditions like eczema may start to experience uncomfortable itching and minor skin inflammation.

How? Try slathering your skin with a PH-balanced moisturizer at least 3-4 times a day. This will create a barrier and help protect your skin from these environmental irritants. Make sure to regularly wash your hands and face to keep your skin’s surface area clean and pollutant-free.

Throat
As you inhale, foreign toxic pollutants passing through your airway will start to dry out and irritate the throat. This will cause your throat to produce phlegm and mucus discharge to try flush out the toxins. In turn, it will clog up your respiratory tract making breathing difficult.  

How? Go to the pharmacy and buy a cough syrup. Keep well-hydrated by drinking 10-12 glasses of water per day. Try having a warm glass of honey lemon drink before you go to bed and for breakfast. This will help soothe your throat to face another smog-filled day ahead. You might even want to throw a couple of lozenges in your purse to ease throat dryness throughout the day.

Nose
As you inhale, toxic particles and chemicals will irritate the nose. Your nose will naturally begin to excrete mucus to try flush out the toxins. As more mucus is produced, it will start to block the nasal passage way and the nose will swell. If you have allergic rhinitis, this condition will be much worse for you.  

How? Go to the pharmacy and get an appropriate medication to reduce coughing and sneezing.

Eyes 
Are you eyes feeling dry? The particles and chemicals in the air can cause a slight burning sensation. Normally, eyes will produce natural tears to wash the particles away. However, if the air quality remains contaminated, the eyes can get inflamed causing conjunctivitis.  

How? Avoid rubbing your eyes and put your contact lenses away. Keep eyes covered by wearing spectacles and sunglasses when going out. Also, get some preservative-free lubricants or saline eye drops. Start dripping these tear supplements into your eyes every hour to wash the allergens away.

Heart
When the nose and air passage ways are inflamed, this puts immense stress and pressure on your heart. Your heart will naturally pump faster and this will inadvertently increase blood pressure. At the same time, the body will release chemicals to make blood cot easily. The combination of higher blood pressure and unnecessary increase of blood clots can trigger a heart attack or heart failure.  

How? Stay indoors, avoid vigorous outdoor activity and wear a respirator mask. Slow down your pace of life a little. Take things easy and consciously check yourself to make sure your heart is not building pressure or pumping too fast.

People with Chronic Illnesses
If you have a pre-existing heart or lung disease, history of asthma, breathing problems (shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing), chronic sinuses, skin allergy and chest discomfort or pain, you are most at risk of developing adverse symptoms of this haze. Children and elderly people are also considered higher-risk due to their weaker and more vulnerable immune system.

How? Stay indoors, avoid vigorous outdoor activity and wear a respirator mask. For stay-at-home retirees, literally: stay at home. Avoid activities like outdoor gardening and line-dancing. Instead, organize a mahjong game and invite your friends over.

Read more about the haze on 10 Ways to Beat the Haze & It’s Raining Birds in Singapore

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