Air pollution increases COVID risk: Know how to keep yourself safe

While festivals are an occasion to step out and enjoy, doctors suggest you hold your steps back this time to keep the pandemic at bay

If you are a fitness freak, just make sure you do not do it in the open during morning and evening hours, say doctors. Photo: PTI

Air pollution is a known killer and winter makes it worse, but the coronavirus pandemic this year has put doctors and the government health machinery on guard, that have warned of a second wave of infection, especially in heavily populated areas like Delhi and Mumbai.

Like every year, air pollution levels in the Delhi-NCR region are moving towards alarming levels.

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Apart from respiratory troubles, irritation in eyes and cardiovascular ailments are a direct result of rising air pollution levels. What happens if the same air pollution results in a spike in COVID-19 cases as well?

Connection between air pollution and COVID-19

Doctors say that increasing air pollution and winter together will spread COVID-19 further. The presence of smog (a combination of smoke and fog) means particles remain suspended in the air for longer duration. Aerosol, which is the major source of COVID-19, will also float in the air for a long time and can spread the virus faster than before.

Since air pollution affects lungs and the respiratory system, increasing pollution may make people susceptible to COVID infection.

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What can I do to prevent COVID?

* Festivals are a time when you ought to go out and meet your near and dear ones, but make an exception this time and refrain from visiting crowded markets and other places.

* Pay a lot of attention to government guidelines that insist on you wearing masks without any exceptions. Put on a mask whenever you step out besides sticking to other precautions like maintaining social distancing and making adequate use of sanitizers.

* People who suffer from chronic respiratory issues like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should avoid going out, specifically during early morning hours and late evenings when the air pollutions levels are relatively higher.

* It is good to exercise, but avoid doing so in the outside, specifically during early morning and late evening hours.

* Avoid burning firecrackers or it will only add to the pollution levels.

* Get vaccinated against influenza and pneumonia to avoid getting co-infected with any other illness.

What should I eat?

* Control the temptation to go for outside food and prefer home cooked food that is high in protein.

* Avoid fasting and maintain body’s water levels.

* Vitamin C, D, and zinc supplements will keep your immunity intact.

(All suggestions made by Dr Richa Sareen, consultant, pulmonogy and critical care medicine, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, while speaking to

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