You step out of the house and you’re hit by the heat and smog. Yes, the haze is back – no thanks to the burning jungles of Kalimantan.
The problem is not just the heat and smoky smell but the effects on your breathing apparatus. You end up with a nasty cough that can last for weeks.
Unhealthy levels of air pollution in certain areas along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia is dangerous to people with breathing problems or heart disease, the elderly and children.
When we inhale air polluted with particulate matter during the haze, our body reacts by producing a lot of phlegm to trap the pollutants and get us to cough them out. As the haze can linger for weeks and sometimes months, this constant irritation to our throat and lungs result in a nagging cough.
It can be serious for people who already have allergic problems, asthma and heart or lung diseases. They may end up with breathing difficulties and have to go to the hospital for treatment.
Keep track of air pollutant index (API) readings shown in the media daily. There are also some apps that allow you to check the API of any area at any time of day – it may be a good idea to download one onto your phone. On days when the API is above 100, stay indoors as much as possible and limit outdoor activities.
If you have a cough, drink a lot of water to keep your throat moist. Taking a cough mixture with natural anti-cough ingredients such as ivy leaf extract can help to soothe your throat and let you breathe easier. This is because the active ingredient in these cough mixtures makes the thick and sticky mucus become more liquid, thus becoming easier to be coughed out.
Always keep a bottle of cough mixture handy. You never know when you’re going to wake up coughing badly in the middle of the night!
Last but not least, always remember to eat your fresh fruits and vegetables – from five to nine servings a day – to stay healthy and strong.
1. Air Info Now. Available at www.airinfonow.org
2. Air Pollutant Index of Malaysia. Available at http://apims.doe.gov.my/
3. Fruits & veggies more matters. Available at www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org
4. Lutsenko Y, et al. (2010). Hedera helix as a medicinal plant. Herba Polonica.;56(1):83-96
5. WebMD. Available at www.webmd.com