Diwali is just around the corner and the onset of winter in most parts of the country is double trouble, especially for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions. The change in the weather coupled with the air and noise pollution during this festival of light, the celebrations can be daunting for some.
With 34.3 million* asthmatics (source: globalasthmareport), India contributes to 12.9% of global asthma cases. Although asthma is hereditary, it can also be triggered due to environmental conditions. Pollen, dust, suspended particles like ash, and pollution due to toxic gases and vapours are some of the natural and man-made environmental factors that can trigger asthma.
The rise in asthma attacks during Diwali can be attributed to the fireworks. The smoke released from the fireworks holds highly toxic lead, copper, sodium and potassium particles. Breathing in this populated air can trigger an allergic reaction and lead to asthma attacks and worsen the condition of people who are already suffering from asthma. Here are some tips for asthma patients to take care of their health during Diwali.
1. Limit your exposure to smoke
Diwali celebration is regretfully impossible to imagine without firecrackers. Since you cannot stop others from celebrating you must protect yourself from the smoke. As they say, ‘prevention is always better than cure’. Stay indoors, and avoid going to large gatherings where the celebration includes fireworks. If you have to step out, make sure you wear a mask, preferably a medical grade or N95 mask at all times. Despite precautions, if you have been exposed to harmful fumes and smoke, do seek medical help as early as possible.
2. Stay away from dust
Thorough cleaning of the house before Diwali is almost mandatory in every household, you must stay away from dust. Allergies due to dust can easily trigger an asthma attack. If you are renovating or repainting the house, consider moving base for a few days to avoid the smell of fresh paint or varnish.
3. Don’t skip your medication and keep your inhalers handy
Breathing ailments can aggravate during Diwali, it is important to be well prepared and not to skip your medication. Keeping your inhalers handy can reduce your chances of an asthma attack. If you notice no improvement in the symptoms of the attack, consult your doctor for further recommendations.
4. Maintain a healthy diet
Eating oily food should be avoided by all, especially if you are suffering from asthma. However, we understand that avoiding Diwali snacks and sweets is nearly unavoidable. Although, you can offset the consumption by increasing the fresh fruit and vegetable intake in your diet during the festival.
A balanced diet is key. Be mindful about what you eat, and avoid binge eating to reduce the risk of asthma.
5. Avoid alcohol
Histamine and sulphites in alcohol are known to trigger asthma attacks. These are the same substances your body releases when you have an allergic reaction which leads to an asthma attack. Your body is already exposed to multiple aggravators during Diwali. To avoid increasing the chances of attack it is best to completely avoid alcohol, as even wines or beverages with low sulphites can be triggering.
Above all, if you are facing difficulties breathing despite medication, it is always better to book an appointment with your nearest doctor. Have a safe and happy Diwali!