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Smog and Asthma: How to Stay Safe in Toxic Weather

Dr Masood Alam

2 min read

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Asthma is a condition which causes swelling of the airways. Along with swelling, airways also produce extra mucus which makes breathing difficult. Consult a pulmonologist for asthma management.

Causes of asthma are not known but it is mostly triggered by exposure to irritants in the air. Smog is air pollution at its worst. Smog is made up mostly of ozone and PM2.5 particles. Both of these agents are irritants and thus are likely to trigger asthma.

In Pakistan, the level of PM2.5 particles reached 1077 cubic meter last November. This is thirty times more than the safe limit. Such levels of pollution are harmful for everyone but for asthmatic patients they can be highly dangerous.

Here are some ways asthmatic patients can protect themselves during smog.

1-Preventive Medication:

It has been known for quite some time that air pollution can trigger asthma. A recent study however, has indicated that air pollution is not only a trigger but also a direct cause of asthma. Knowing that air pollution is likely to induce asthma it is a good measure to take medication beforehand.

If you have asthma, it is advisable to visit a pulmonologist and get a prescription for smoggy days. Asthma patients should stay indoors as much as possible during smog. Outdoor visits if necessary should not be made without regular medication.

2-Face masks:

In some areas such as Pakistan, the smog season usually spans over a couple of months. Staying indoors for such a long period of time is not possible. In such cases, it is crucial that asthma patients use a face mask whenever they go out.

Face masks are very effective as they can drastically reduce PM2.5 inhalation. These small particles when inhaled can trigger an asthmatic attack. Experts at oladoc recommend wearing N95 masks for smog. These masks can filter out as much as 95% of harmful particles from the air that people breathe in.

3-No exercise:

Asthma patients should limit exercise during smog. Exercise is likely to cause rapid breathing which in turn can put pressure on the airways and thus induce asthma. An asthmatic attack during exercise especially outdoors can be fatal in extreme cases.

During cold smoggy days it is advisable to reduce workout intensity. It is also critical that all exercise is done indoors. Exercising outdoors can increase inhalation of harmful particles ultimately leading to an attack.

4-Be prepared:

In smoggy days, it is better to be safe than sorry. Preparation is the key to avoid asthmatic attacks in cold and smoggy weather. One way to avoid any emergency is to keep an inhaler on you all the time.

It is also important to keep an eye on the air quality index in your area. If the air quality index is above the safe limit of 300, then outdoor visits should be rescheduled. Air quality indices are available on most of the common weather apps.


Dehydration is another factor that can aggravate asthma. People with asthma produce histamine at a greater rate than normal people. Dehydration can further increase the production of histamine. Excessive histamine and mucus filled airways are the main cause of an asthmatic attack.

Dehydration can be dangerous for asthmatic patients during smog as it can worsen the situation. Staying hydrated is important for asthmatic patients but on smoggy days it is absolutely necessary.

If you or a loved one is suffering from asthma, you should visit a pulmonologist as soon as possible. You can also visit our website at oladoc.com and look for treatment options for top pulmonologists in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 to get directed to the specialists that are suitable for your specific concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr Masood Alam - Author Dr. Masood Alam is among the Best Pulmonologists in Multan. Dr. Masood Alam is a Pulmonologist practicing in Multan. Dr. Masood Alam has the following degrees: M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S, F.C.P.S.(Pulmanology) and has 10 years of experience.
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