When you think of a North India winter, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Most people would say the FOG. 

Fog is a low-lying cloud where accumulation of water takes place from local water bodies. Fog rarely lasts longer after sunrise and has no major ill effect other than reduced visibility. But it is when this fog is mixed with other pollutants to form smog that it becomes dangerous for your health. 

The main reason for the formation of smog is the increasing air pollution. Air pollutants from cars and most recent Diwali crackers like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and various industrial pollutants like carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, ozone and particulate matter mix with fog to form a dense layer in the atmosphere called smog. 

Facing a worse spell of persistent smog again this year, Delhi and its NCR region's air quality has slipped to 'hazardous' levels. As a result, stepping out even for the shortest periods of time can have effects like headache, nausea, breathlessness, burning in eyes etc. for Delhi residents. 

Who is at the most risk from the smog?

  • Children
  • Adults who are active outdoors
  • People with respiratory diseases
  • People with unusual susceptibility to ozone

How does smog affect the human body?

Smog can be responsible for any ailment from minor pains to deadly pulmonary diseases such as lung cancer. The effects also include- 

  • Coughing and throat or chest irritation: High levels of ozone irritate your respiratory system. They usually last for a few hours after you’ve been exposed to smog. However, ozone sometimes continues to harm your lungs even after the visible symptoms disappear.
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms: If you suffer from asthma, exposure to high levels of ozone from smog can trigger severe asthma attacks.
  • Difficulty breathing & lung damage: Smog can make it feel difficult to breathe deeply, especially during exercise. This is because of the effects of ozone on lung function.

My advice to Delhiites is simple: 

  • Stay indoors as much as possible. 
  • Avoid taxing physical activity.
  • Wearing masks while stepping out (even for short durations).
  • Hydration is also extremely important in such situations since water flushes out the toxins out of body. 
  • Avoid morning jogs and other outdoor activities for some time.
  • Consider investing in air purifiers. 
  • Eat foods that boost your immunity such as Vitamin C rich citrus fruits. 
  • Herbal preparations like Triphala Powder, Pippali Powder mixed with Ginger and Turmeric powder along with honey and warm water are also very helpful in preventing the damaging effects of smog. 

A WHO study estimated that fine particulates are the direct cause of more than 5% lung cancer deaths worldwide. This means 8 lakh people lose their lives every year just because of the air they breathe.

Don't take chances with your health or of those you love. Take precautionary steps against the smog today!

It's most important to focus on preventive therapies which boost your defense to combat the bad effects of smog rather than running from pillar to post later for cure.

Stay safe! Stay healthy!