Pulmonologist Dr Lancelot Pinto explains what preventive measures should people with Asthma take during Diwali

Firecrackers are an integral part of the Diwali celebration. But these can cause harmful effects on people with asthma. Hence, Consultant Pulmonologist Dr Lancelot Pinto from P.D. Hinduja Hospital and MRC shares some exclusive tips for them to have a safe and happy Diwali.
Pulmonologist Dr Lancelot Pinto explains what preventive measures should people with Asthma take during Diwali
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The festive season in the Northern hemisphere coincides with winter, a season that tends to not be the best time of the year for people with lung ailments. It is a season in which viruses thrive, pollution levels tend to be higher, the air tends to be colder and people congregate more indoors, so, all of these things can contribute to the worsening of respiratory health among those with asthma.

Individuals with asthma have very sensitive air passages (or bronchi, the tubes through which air moves in and out of the lungs), and anything irritating these passages has the potential of causing them to constrict, leading to wheezing, cough and shortness of breath. There are two strategies that are important to counter the sensitivity of these passages by the regular use of inhalers, and controlling the irritants to these passages to the best of one’s ability. Dr Lancelot Pinto, Consultant Pulmonologist, P.D. Hinduja Hospital and MRC shares some tips on how people with asthma can have a safe and happy Diwali.  

Read below to know how people with asthma can stay safe during Diwali?

Importance of inhalers

If you have asthma and have been advised by your physician to take your inhaler regularly, then doing so is your best bet to have an attack-free Diwali. Inhalers use medicines in microgram doses that are delivered directly into the lung, and therefore, are extremely safe. Often doctors are asked by patients that if they will be addicted to the inhalers. But the truth is if they have asthma, then using it will make their breathing easier. But if they stop taking it then they may experience symptoms because it’s a disease that needs to be controlled by the inhalers.

How can we control the irritants to these passages?

1.Strong smells, cold air, dust, smoke, viruses are examples of external irritants to the lungs. A simple cloth mask, normalised by the pandemic, can limit exposure to most of these.

2.Limiting or abandoning the use of fireworks can be beneficial as the strong smells and smoke tend to adversely affect those with asthma. They might do better with using soap and water for hand hygiene rather than alcohol-based sanitizers which tend to have strong smells.

3.Limiting one’s exposure to the 3 Cs- closed, crowded spaces with close contact with other individuals can lower the risk of airborne infections, which often trigger asthma attacks. 

4.People also tend to clean their houses before Diwali, and the ensuing dust and dirt exposure in indoor spaces can be harmful to those with asthma. One should seek help in such cleaning and do so wearing a mask.

5.The flu vaccine which protects against seasonal influenza is advisable to be taken by those with asthma. In addition to these external irritants, there are also intrinsic ones that we need to be cognizant of.

6.Gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux from the stomach) is a known trigger for asthma attacks, and one should keep a check on overeating and excessive alcohol during the holiday season. Sleep deprivation can also worsen reflux and one needs to be cautious when it comes to letting the celebrations get in the way of sleep.

7.Nasal congestion often goes hand in hand with asthma and needs to be treated lest a post-nasal drip aggravates the lungs.

8.Weight gain also worsens asthma, and one needs to be careful to avoid the inevitable weight gain that festivities bring.

Diwali is a celebration that all of us look forward to indulging in, and it should not be any different for those with asthma. Protecting oneself with the right medications coupled with avoiding or limiting triggers should ensure a safe and happy Diwali.

Also Read: Nutritionist Arooshi Aggarwal shares health tips for people doing work from home to stay fit and active