Now that the haze is back, we recommend seven ways to protect yourself from the haze and keep your body in it’s best condition regardless of air quality.
The detrimental effects that haze can have on a person is dependent on his or her health as well as the duration and intensity of outdoor activity. Here are some ways to protect yourself from the hazy onslaught:
Clearly one of the best ways to battle the health effects of haze is to avoid going outdoors. Try to stay indoors as much as possible and shut the windows. Switch on the air conditioner if possible or use suitable air filters and air purifiers to remove dust particles and contaminants in the air.
Avoid Strenuous Outdoor Activities
Minimise your duration of exposure outdoors. If you have to do outdoor sports or exercises, try bringing your workout indoors or postpone it instead. Aerobic activities such as running, cycling or playing football will require deep breathing and that would mean inhaling all the harmful pollutants in the air. Those who have pre-existing chronic heart or lung conditions, or who are not feeling well, should avoid going outdoors. Even if you do not have a pre-existing condition, it is still better to be safe than sorry as excessive exposure to the minuscule dust particles can increase one’s risk of developing viral and bacterial infections.
Wear A Mask
If you must go outdoors, put on a respiratory mask. Surgical masks or paper masks do not offer any protection against the solid particles present in the air. An appropriate respiratory mask to combat the haze would be the N95 mask, which is designed to filter airborne particles and protect wearers from inhaling the haze particles. These respiratory masks are available at major pharmacies and supermarkets.
Hydrate Frequently And Increase Fibre Intake
Given that haze can irritate your throat, causing it to be dry or sore or even lead to coughing, it is essential to drink up to flush away the toxins absorbed through the skin and lungs. Eating more fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins A and C can boost your immune system. Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach and are known to protect your eyes and lungs from air pollution. Foods rich in vitamin C like oranges, kiwis and broccoli can promote lung tissue health and prevent you from catching the common flu.
Take Medication To Alleviate Symptoms
Haze can cause some adverse effects on your health which includes eye irritation, running or stuffy nose, throat irritation, headache or lung inflammation. If you experience any of these symptoms, you might want to relieve them with eye drops or cough tablets and mixtures available at pharmacies (consult your doctor first). If your symptoms worsen, do seek medical attention immediately.
On top of all the toxins present in the hazy air, the last thing you want to do is to further irritate your lungs with cigarette smoke. Avoid smoking during this period as it will make your lungs even more sensitive to the effects of air pollutants.
Pay Attention To Air Quality Updates
Check the local environment agency’s website regularly for updates on the latest air conditions. You can visit NEA for live updates on the latest PSI readings to verify if the air quality is within a healthy PSI range.
Bearing these tips in mind, stay safe and protected from the harmful effects of the haze and hope that the air clears up soon!
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You can’t control the haze, but you can take measures to protect yourself and minimise the harmful effects of it. By Dawn Chen
Protect yourself against the haze. Photo: 123RF.com/ PaylessImages
You’re probably already familiar with the different ways that the haze can affect you. Perhaps you’ve also experienced them. Now learn how you can protect yourself from the haze in order to minimise its harmful effects with these expert tips from Singapore Medical Group (SMG).
Dr Valerie Tay, medical director and consultant, ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist of SMG ENT Centre, shares tips on how to protect your ENT in light of the haze.
Drink plenty of water.
It’s best to carry a bottle of water with you everywhere, especially if you are always on the go. Drinking lots of water will help reduce throat irritation from the haze, and also protects your voice.
It’s especially important to reduce outdoor physical activity when the PSI is in the unhealthy range (above PSI 100). Instead, exercise in the gym, perform resistance exercises at home with weights, or do high intensity circuit workouts indoors.
When the PSI is in the very unhealthy range (above PSI 200), stay indoors as far as possible. You can also consider using an air filtration device to improve the air quality at home. If you have to spend prolonged periods of time outdoors, wear an N95 mask that has been properly fitted.
Watch your health
Those with pre-existing, chronic medical conditions such as allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma or lung disease should take their medications regularly, and see their doctor if they are feeling unwell.
Dr Daphne Han, medical director and consultant, ophthalmologist of SMG Vision Centre, shares tips on protecting your eyes in light of the haze.
Reduce exposure to the haze
Wearing goggles or broad-rimmed sunglasses help to physically reduce eye exposure to the haze. This minimises the chances of eye irritations.
Cut back on contacts
Reducing contact lens wear is also helpful, as haze can worsen dry eyes. Contact lens users should also consider switching to glasses if eye irritation becomes significant.
Hydrate your eyes
Using preservative-free lubricating eye drops to moisturise and applying cold compress to the eyes can alleviate symptoms of dry and allergic eyes. If you’ve got eye irritations, try an over-the-counter eye drop that’s specifically formulated for eye allergies. These usually contain sodium cromoglycate, a medicinal ingredient that reduces the release of histamine that can cause inflammation of the eyes. Sodium cromoglycate eye drops can be prescribed by doctors, but are also available without prescription.
See a doctor if need be
In severe cases of eye irritation, prescription eye drops may be needed. It’s important to visit an ophthalmologist before starting on a treatment plan as some patients may require steroid eye drops, which could have side effects.
Keeping the body healthy and well-hydrated by drinking plenty of fluid can also improve dry eyes and overall well-being. For an added boost, you can consider taking omega-3 fish oil in a capsule form as well.
Dr Gavin Ong, medical director and consultant, dermatologist of The Skin Specialist shares tips on preventing premature skin-ageing in light of the haze.
Antioxidants are your BFF
Pick skincare products with antioxidants to protect your skin against free radical damage and reduce the harmful effects of the haze. Skin is also usually drier than usual, so choose a good moisturiser as well.
Protect yourself from harmful UV rays
To prevent premature skin ageing, continue using a broad-spectrum sunscreen even though it’s hazy outside as UV rays can still shine through. Consider using sun-protective gear like hats and umbrellas too.
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Skincare tips for hazy days
Quick facts about the haze