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Mumbai doctors share tips to cope with the recent air pollution in the city

Updated on: 20 October,2023 07:28 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Pooja Patel |

As the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) dips and a smog blanket envelopes the mornings, two city doctors suggest how to cope with air pollution

Mumbai doctors share tips to cope with the recent air pollution in the city

The air quality has deteriorated for three consecutive days. The AQI dipped to 161 (moderate) on Thursday morning. File pic

Wear an N-95 mask out of home

Air pollution has been on the rise for several years now, and the multiple constructions of buildings and vehicular pollution are major factors that also lead to the deterioration of the air quality index of the city.  The PM [particulate matter] 10 pollutant released from construction sites has a tendency to get stuck in your air passage, while the PM 2.5 pollutants are far worse, as they penetrate the air passage and settle in your lungs, which can lead to various side effects.

For prevention, what needs to be kept in mind is to absolutely avoid stepping out in the mornings for walking, jogging, running or for any other form of exercise, as you will inadvertently end up inhaling these pollutants. And if you already have lung-related disease, disorders or breathing troubles, avoid this at any cost. But if you wish for an outdoor exercise routine, it’s best to step out after 9.30 or 10 am. 

When stepping out for any work, at any time of the day, wear a surgical mask or an N-95 mask. Though masks don’t provide 100 per cent protection from pollution, they do help to a certain extent. A lot of people who have difficulty in breathing or feel claustrophobic when they wear a mask, and so don’t wear one; should at least wear a mask when they are in an area where heavy construction work is underway, or there’s dust en route.

For asthmatic patients, breathing or lung-related issues or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease [COPD], medicine adherence is extremely important. Some people have this misconception that if you use inhalers, you will get addicted to it. But if your doctors have prescribed certain medicines, and taking into consideration the current Air Quality Index [AQI], it is best to follow the medicine plan. If you contract any chest-related infection, flu-like symptoms or coughing, it is important to get early medical intervention, so as to avoid prolonged recovery period or side-effects. If possible, install an air purifier indoors, at your home or workplace.  Cardio exercises [as per your capacity] done indoors, is a good idea, as it helps strengthen the lungs. Though, this is a long-term solution.         

Dr Sulaiman Ladhani, chest physician and consultant pulmonologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mumbai Central

Avoid using mosquito repellent vapouriser

This AQI issue is largely due to infrastructure activities taking place across the city. It leads to visible and microscopic dust that we end up inhaling. The second reason responsible for this is the change in season from monsoon. We are now moving to winter, so it’s a transition period, and October is typically a dry and slightly hot month. While we can’t control these aspects, what we can do is adopt a few preventive measures and focus on building up on overall immunity.  

One thing that I highly recommend is to take measures to control indoor pollution, which is created by burning incense sticks, camphor, candles and mosquito repellent products like coils, mats, liquids or the electric mats. These release toxins that can add to the air pollution and may cause health issues in the future. If there is a mosquito menace at home, apply mosquito repellent lotion or use a bed net.

Whether a person has any breathing disorders or not, till the AQI improves, avoid going out in the early morning, especially up to 7 am, as that’s when the smog envelopes most parts of the city. Ideally, after 8.30 am, there’s plenty of sunlight and the pollutants have settled in the higher level of the atmosphere. 

Exercising indoors till the time the current smog issue settles, is a great idea, and is a must, because it helps in building up immunity, which will enable the body to fight any diseases that may come our way due to the air pollution. With the help of certified fitness experts, try yoga, deep breathing exercises and functional training exercises. Try deep breathing exercise that involves diaphragmatic breathing, as it strengthens the respiratory muscles and helps you breathe better.

Oxygen-free radicals are produced in the lungs due to prolonged exposure to pollutants, which damages them. So, eat a lot of seasonal fruits, especially the ones that have high antioxidants properties. These fruits help take care of this. For people who are above 50 or have comorbidities, I would advise them to take annual influenza vaccines and a pneumococcal vaccine at least once in their lifetime; as these will provide protection from severe types of flu or pneumonia. All things considered, get your lungs checked periodically from a pulmonologist is a great way to monitor the lung health.

Dr Samir Garde, director of department of pulmonology and lung transplant, Global Hospitals, Parel

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