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Diwali woes for Asthma patients

With Diwali a couple of days away, many are busy preparing for the celebrations. However, Rohan, a 16-year-old student and chronic asthma patient, is preparing to get away to some far off place.

Last Diwali, the smoke from firecrackers had taken its toll on Rohan. It got so bad that he had to be hospitalised. For many parents and children like Rohan, Diwali does not mean a long, happy vacation. It means moving far from the city or say, moving far from the noise and air pollution caused by crackers to the surrounding environment.

Gaseous air pollutants emitted from firecrackers aggravate the risk of an attack in asthmatics. Such pollutants also have the potential to cause new cases of asthma. Crackers are one of the provoking factors for childhood bronchial asthma, it has now been established that 26% of people without any prior history of respiratory ailments develop symptoms of coughing, wheezing and breathlessness especially during Diwali.

The reason is that crackers contain 75% potassium nitrate, 15% carbon and 10% sulphur, and when they are burnt, harmful gases such as sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, manganese and even cadmium, are released, which irritate the delicate airways of lungs and worsen the condition of people with pulmonary diseases.

Plus, this is also the time of the year, when a combination of factors such as changing weather patterns, increase in allergens, and the onset of winter makes it difficult for asthma patients to remain healthy. D-Days also involve painting, house cleaning, and dusting, which is harmful for asthma and allergy patients.

So, to stay healthy and happy, these are the precautionary steps you can keep in mind and follow to enjoy the festive season like everyone else do:

  • Stay away from Dust. Try not to involve in house cleaning process. If essential to clean, then use a wet mop or vacuum clean. You can also keep a mask handy during these days.
  • Go out for a vacation. The best way to deal with the pollution at this time of the year is to move out of the city for few days to places where pollution levels are low. If this is not possible, shut your home windows for the period when crackers are being burst outside.
  • Eat healthy food. While food may seem like an unlikely factor, it plays a big role in controlling asthma. Typically oily food or ghee-laden sweets are high in fat, and can worsen the condition. Hence it is important to have a nutritious diet of home-cooked meals, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Take care of your little ones. According to the Asthma and Bronchitis Association of India, incidence of paediatric asthma is rising steadily. Around 10-12% children are complaining of asthma, bronchitis or other respiratory disorders and the numbers are on a rise. Therefore, it is your responsibility to educate children about saving the environment and its impact on our health.
  • Control your Vices. It is better to stay away from alcohol and smoking as it can increase the risk of perennial allergic rhinitis.
  • Keep your doctor informed. If you see any acute and severe symptoms like cough, wheezing, breathlessness in spite of medication, immediately report at the nearest medical care centre for appropriate advice and treatment.
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