Sunday, Feb 28, 2021 | Last Update : 01:03 AM IST

  Life   Health  19 Dec 2016  Asthma attack is common in winter

Asthma attack is common in winter

THE ASIAN AGE. | KANIZA GARARI
Published : Dec 19, 2016, 12:35 am IST
Updated : Dec 19, 2016, 12:37 am IST

Dr C. Vijay Kumar, consultant interventional pulmonologist at Apollo Hospitals, explains the care people must take during winter.

Breathlessness, episodes of asthma attack, upper respiratory tract infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders have seen a major rise.
 Breathlessness, episodes of asthma attack, upper respiratory tract infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders have seen a major rise.

Presence of heavy dust particles in the air are seen due to low temperatures. With no wind movement, these particles are static in the air, making it difficult for people to breathe. Breathlessness, episodes of asthma attack, upper respiratory tract infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders have seen a major rise.

Six major pollutants — carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxide, ground-level ozone, particle pollution (referred as particulate matter), and sulfur oxide — are found in the smog according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Dr C. Vijay Kumar, consultant interventional pulmonologist at Apollo Hospitals, explains the care that people must take during the months of winter.

Q.Vehicular pollution is said to be the prime reason for increasing pollution levels in the city. What are the particles which affect people? What other pollutants are found in the static air?
Exposure to ozone depends on the place where people live and work and also on the time spent outside. When ozone levels are high, people must reduce the amount of time spent outside, plan outdoor activities when ozone levels are lower, usually in the morning and evening, do easier outdoor activities, such as walking instead of running and plan more of indoor activities. Particle pollution in cities is from motor vehicles, factories and construction sites. Particle pollution includes:

 

  • Coarse particles that are between 2.5 and 10 micrometers,
  • Fine particles that are between 0.1 micrometers and 2.5 micrometers; also known as PM 2.5
  • Ultrafine particles that are smaller than 0.1 micrometers.

Q.Breathing this air affects the airways and the lungs?
Particles bigger than 10 micrometers can irritate your eyes, nose and throat but do not usually reach your lungs. Ten micrometers is about seven times thinner than one human hair.

Fine and ultrafine particles are of concern because they are most likely to cause health problems. Their small size allows them to get into the deep part of your lungs and even into your blood.

 

Q.What are the preventive methods that different age-groups must take during this season?
Being exposed to any kind of particulate matter may cause:

  • Increased emergency department visits and hospital stays for breathing and heart problems
  • Worsened asthma symptoms
  • Adverse birth outcomes
  • Breathing problems
  • Decreased lung growth in children
  • Lung cancer
  • Early death

People who are at the highest risk of being bothered by particulate matter include:

  • People with heart or lung diseases, because they will feel the effects of particulate matter sooner and at lower ozone levels than less-sensitive people.
  • Senior citizens, because they may not know they have lung or heart disease. When particle levels are high, older adults are more likely than young adults to have to go to the hospital or die because the exposure to particle pollution has made their heart or lung disease worse.
  • Children, because they are still growing and spend more time at high activity levels. When children come in contact with particle pollution over a long period of time, they may have problems as their lungs and airways are developing. This exposure may put them at risk for lowered lung function and other respiratory problems later in life. Children are more likely than adults to have asthma and other respiratory problems that can worsen when particle pollution is high.
  • Infants, because their lungs continue to develop after birth and can be impacted by air pollutants.

Q.What are the precautions that identified patients must take?
EPA’s Air Quality Index, or AQI, is a tool to help you quickly learn when air pollution is likely to reach unhealthy levels. You can use the AQI to plan your daily activities to reduce exposure to particle pollution. When particle pollution levels are high, you can:

 

  • Reduce the amount of time you spend outside
  • Do easier outdoor activities, such as walking instead of running or using a riding lawn mower instead of a push mower
  • Exercise away from roads and highways. Particle pollution is usually worse near these areas.

Q.With the presence of this air, what are the chances of a lung attack? How can lung attack be identified? What are the signs one must watch out for in an identified patient?
Those who have lung diseases cough more, have chest pain, wheeze, feel like you can’t catch your breath, get more tired than usual. They are not able to breathe as deeply or strongly like others do. They require medical help and intervention and if it is not given on time, it results in lung attack.

 

Precautions during winter:

  • Not to exercise in outdoors
  • Use a mask when outdoors
  • As soon as flu symptoms are visible, consult your pulmonologist
  • Restrict yourself to indoors when struck with flu, to avoid spreading the virus in the community
  • The moment one experiences breathing difficulty, hospitalisation may be necessary — rush to emergency department to avoid catastrophies.
  • Frequent hand wash with soap and water can reduce transmission of virus.

Tags: apollo hospital, pollution, winter, asthma attack