How to Celebrate Diwali Taking Care of your Lungs

This article will help you to look after yourself and be extra careful in this season as air pollution rises in the celebration of Diwali.

Owing to pollution level around the festival of Diwali, oxygen levels have gone down in the environment, especially in metro cities of India. The reason is concentration of gases in the air, moreover, it is the affect of changing season which gives rise to virus infection induced breathing and upper respiratory problems here.

The capital city of Delhi has been choking because of multiple air pollutants accumulating in the air, most of it coming from crop residue burning in its adjoining agricultural states. Government has however, released strict instructions to not to use crackers this Diwali and not concentrate the air with more pollutants and smoke this year because already the people suffering from asthma, bronchitis, and allergies are suffering. The elderly and small children are more susceptible to give up on the fight for breathing. There have already been reports of people succumbing to lack of oxygen in the body.

Good health and fitness depends on good supply of oxygen in the blood because it is the only life giving force which reaches all our body systems and prepares our body for day to day tasks as well as exercises. Bodyandstrength.com reached out to me to write an article which can make people understand the ways in which people can look after themselves and be extra careful in this season.

How to Measure Blood Oxygen Level

  1. ABG test or Arterial Blood Gas

Apart from oxygen level in the blood, it also detects other gases in the blood, as well as the pH (acid/base level). An ABG is very beneficial but it is also very invasive. To get an ABG measurement, your doctor/trained healthcare personnel will draw blood from an artery rather a vein. Unlike veins, arteries have a pulse that can be felt and carries oxygenated blood. For this, the artery in your wrist is used because it can be easily felt. However, it is a sensitive area, making a blood draw there more uncomfortable compared to a vein. Arteries are also deeper than veins, hence, add to the discomfort.

  1. Pulse Oximeter

A pulse oximeter (pulse ox) is a noninvasive device that estimates the amount of oxygen in your blood. It does so by sending infrared light into capillaries in your finger, toe or earlobe. Then it measures how much light  is reflected off the gases. A reading indicates what percentage of your blood is saturated. This tests has a 2 percent error window which means the reading may be as much as 2 percent higher or lower than your actual blood oxygen level. This test may be slightly less accurate. But it is mostly used by doctors because of its fast readings. This test is non-invasive, hence, can be done at home yourself. Do not forget to discuss the result with your doctor.

A normal ABG oxygen level for healthy lungs falls between 80 and 100 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). If a pulse ox measured your blood oxygen level, a normal reading is typically between 95 and 100 percent. However, in COPD or other lung diseases, these ranges may not apply. Your doctor will let you know what is normal for your specific health condition.

Symptoms Signifying Low Level of Oxygen in Blood

A below normal blood oxygen level is called hypoxemia. It is a cause of concern. This can lead to complications in body tissue and organs. When your blood oxygen level goes outside the typical range, you may begin experiencing symptoms.

This includes shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, headache, rapid heartbeat. If you continue to have low oxygen levels then you may show symptoms of cyanosis. The sign of this condition is blue discoloration of your nail beds, skin and mucus membranes. It is an emergency situation and your should seek immediate medical attention because this leads to respiratory failure and hence, can be fatal.

12 Ways to Stay Healthy Through the Season

Despite all the pollution and adversities, it is still possible for people to celebrate the season and festivities in good health. Here is how you can do it:

  1. People susceptible to shortness of breath or suffering from any of the above mentioned health conditions, and the elderly in the family must have a Pulse Oxymeter at home to monitor oxygen levels twice daily.
  2. It is important to have air purifiers installed at home to get a cleaner air in the confined area where you spend most of your time.
  3. Take flu shots twice a year after consulting your doctor.
  4. Wear mask (preferred N95) while going out. People having breathing problems avoid roaming out at all for a few days.
  5. Yoga and Pranayam done regularly year round has a very positive effect on strengthening your lungs and they become prepared to seasonal pressures. Hence, if you haven’t been doing it, it is time to start now.
  6. Do lung exercises like spirometer any time in the day. Consult a physiotherapist for the same if needed.
  7. Eat easy to digest, nutritious meals and avoid festive binging. Savories can be consumed in small quantities only.
  8. Stay away from crackers and also, you must have proper gas outlets in the kitchen so that the fumes do not fill the house.
  9. People with allergies must stay away from strong perfumes and scents.
  10. Stay calm happy and keep patience, especially, till the winters set in.
  11. Asthmatic and people having allergies must have one anti-allergic (to be taken throughout the season daily) as prescribed by their doctors. They must also keep their prescribed inhalers with them always and must have steam and nebulizer as directed by their physician. It is not harmful and will further ease out your breathing all through the season making all your tasks much easier.
  12. If you are feeling healthy, do not break your workout schedule, keep exercising regularly. Avoid doing them outside the house or taking up excursion where you are exposed to pollution. Do them inside.

About The Author

Dr. Parul Saxena

Dr. Parul Saxena has been serving as research specific practicing doctor and treats patients with chronic Diabetes, Obesity, Mental Health and practices family medicine. She has.... Read More..

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