Have you woken up to mornings filled with smog recently? In March 2019, Residents living in various parts of Singapore from Bukit Panjang to Yishun have experienced hazy days with a burning smell in the air due to several burning hotspots in Johor and prevailing wind conditions. There are also fears to a recurrence of the 2015 haze crisis due to hotter and drier El-Nino in 2019.
In Singapore, it is important to be prepared for the haze period, especially if there’s someone at home suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD). COPD is a common long-term lung disease. The two main forms are Bronchitis and Emphysema. Bronchitis is usually characterised by inflammation in the airways (bronchi) creating excessive mucus and coughing. Emphysema is a condition where the smaller airways (bronchioles) and air sacs are damaged. COPD is symptomatic and diagnosed using a machine called the Spirometer. While COPD does not have a cure, its symptoms can be managed and controlled. We’ve listed the common COPD symptoms below.
What Should I Do?
When haze occurs, the air contains higher levels of carbon dioxide, soot particles and toxic pollutants. Exposure to these airborne toxic particles will affect the health of healthy individuals and increase the chances of bronchitis and the risk of lung cancer. For individuals with respiratory diseases, the haze will aggravate their conditions and it is best to avoid any outdoor activities and take preventive measures.
Those suffering from COPD should take extra precaution when the pollution index starts to climb. Here are some easy tips on how to prepare your home for when the air quality takes a turn for the worst:
Portable Air Purifier (HDB Flats)
An air purifier is essentially an air cleaner to remove any contaminants in the air. This is ideal for your loved ones or yourself if you suffer from COPD. It is important to remove any toxic pollutants in your home. Prepare your home with a portable air purifier to ensure that you have clean air circulation indoors – here is a list of air purifiers that you can consider that are suitable for the haze.
In 2015, due to the persistent hazardous haze and unpredictable wind conditions, N95 masks were flying off the shelves in Singapore. While we are nowhere close to 2015’s haze levels, it is important for you or your love ones with COPD to still have N95 masks handy. The N95 mask is designed to protect the individual from micro airborne toxic pollutants that are found in polluted air. The mask can prevent an individual from breathing in the micro pollutants that can easily penetrate our lungs and bloodstream.
Avoid the outdoors as much as possible
When the pollution index goes into the unhealthy range from MOH advisory, reduce time outdoors as much as possible when you or your loved ones suffer from a respiratory disease. If you want to exercise, do remember to do so indoors with a good air circulation as doing your exercises outdoors will increase the risk of inhaling pollutants.
If you or your loved ones suffer from asthma or any other respiratory diseases, it is important that you have your inhaler or your medication with you at all times. Alternatively, if your loved one has trouble using the inhaler, you can consider using a nebuliser. A nebuliser essentially delivers medication for patients with asthma or any other respiratory diseases in mist form. A nebuliser will essentially clear the airways.
Haze will increase the production of mucus in the airway – if your loved one has trouble removing mucus on their own, you should use a suction machine to clear the airway so as to prevent discomfort or choking.
Ensure that you have a healthy diet during the haze period as your immune system undergoes stress from harmful air pollutants and irritants in the body. Ensure that you consume more fruits and leafy vegetables to boost your vitamin intake. Follow HPB’s My Healthy Plate to ensure that you have a well-balanced and healthy diet.
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