The streets of Singapore, nestled in the heart of haze-stricken South East Asia, are overflowing with people who cover their noses and mouths with surgical masks. Clumsy as these masks may look, they are a necessary precaution.
If you are a traveler planning a trip to the South East Asian region during this time, you will gain much from knowing how haze gathers. You will need to grasp its negative health effects. Living in this region means that you will need suggestions to cope with the seasonal deluge of free radicals in the air.
Haze is an atmospheric phenomenon which happens when dry particles like dust and smoke fill the air and obscure the sky. Common haze sources include industries, traffic and particularly in South East Asia, forest fires. The area has an ongoing problem with companies near forests logging illegally to clear land. Seen from far away, the smoke caused by the burning trees may seem bluish or brownish.
Haze, as you would expect, has many harmful health effects.
If you have sensitive eyes, you may want to wear a pair of sunglasses when you are outdoors. This is not for vanity’s sake, but to protect the lids from conjunctivitis, or an inflamed conjunctiva. Doctors affectionately term it “Pink Eye”.
Haze will also make you susceptible to throat inflammation. This may cause an overproduction of mucus. A runny nose may also result. Inhaling smoke particles may also cause respiratory difficulties and digestive problems like diarrhea.
Longer term effects include heart disease. Inhaled smoke adds to the plaque in arteries, as studies show. Liver scarring and liver dysfunction is another possibility.
With the likelihood of all these health conditions, it is not easy to stay collected. Anxiety and stress is a common problem associated with haze.
One way to cope with this onslaught of health difficulties is to drink lots of fluids. Water helps to remove the radicals and toxins that you inhale. As far as you can, stay indoors if the PSI is high.
Wear masks, even if they may make you look strange. Surgical masks of different designs are readily available. Those who are comfortable with N95 masks can easily find them in pharmacies.
The health concerns that may trouble you may bug your pets as well. They, too may experience respiratory difficulties. Birds which fly at high altitudes may become sick because of the thinner air, so bird lovers may want to keep their pets caged during this time.
Dogs, especially brachycephalic dogs (dogs with short snouts like shih tzus and pugs) may pant more at such times. A daily wipe down helps. Vitamin C can help to boost their immunity. Cats, too, may suffer in the same way. Veterinarians propose that they wear foot pads when they go out, owing to the heat that rises from the ground.
The best way to combat the haze and its ill-effects is to become a Pollyanna. Stay positive and know that there are always ways to get around smog-related problems.