Unanticipated Health Hazards of Fog

January 7, 2019

As winter intensifies, fogs descend on most of northern India and parts of eastern India. Fogs cause the cold to penetrate through the layers of warm clothing, adding to your distress. The biggest hazard is to physical safety as low visibility potentially causes more accidents than vehicular failure. So, you need to be a little more alert when you venture outside your home. Walking, jogging, exercising, riding, or driving — you need to be more careful than at other times to prevent accidents or collisions.

Winter Fog

Try this to improve alertness: Typically, drinking tea or coffee clears the cobwebs from the brain. Since too much tea or coffee can be harmful, try deep breathing exercises when you are indoors to ensure that you can send more oxygen to your brain, and sharpen your senses.

Vapor in the Fog Impacts Breathing Adversely
Strange though it might sound, a little more than a century ago some scientists actually argued that fogs are beneficial for humans, and might even prolong life expectancy. However, such scientists admitted that there are several ailments which might get aggravated by a dense fog. Chief among them are asthma and rheumatism. Fog adversely impacts breathing for two reasons. Firstly, breathing in a fog means your delicate lungs are exposed to cold, watery air. This can cause chills, and irritation causing coughs and sniffles. In people with low immunity and vitality levels, it could lead to bronchitis if the coughs are ignored.

Other adverse effects: When the air you breathe in is vapor laden, it means you are getting less oxygen in every breath you take. Not only are you enfeebled, but you might be somewhat disoriented due to the lower oxygen levels in your bloodstream. Also, you might find that you need more sleep, and are getting tired easily. If possible, sleep slightly longer hours to help your body cope with the additional stress.

You Could be Choking or Your Eyes Might Suffer
Secondly, pollution causes fog to be Sulphur laden. Sulfur dioxide has higher concentrations in foggy air and causes constriction in the lungs. Net result is that every gulp of air messes up your system. Asthmatic people find difficulty in breathing increase proportionately with density of fog. When dissolved in the foggy air, nitrogen dioxide has displayed reactivity. Many people complain of smarting eyes, and a sense of choking. Some also experience difficulty in swallowing. So, if the area you live in has poor air quality, try and stay indoors as much as possible while the fog lasts.

Do this: Wear a light filter mask when you need to step out of the house to keep the pollutants out. Rinse your eyes with cool, clean water several times a day. Ensure you eat adequate food that is both warm and nutritious to improve your immunity and resilience levels.

Ouch! That Knee Has Become Creakier
Patients who suffer from rheumatism and arthritis dread the fog as it causes their joints to pain more. Colder temperatures combined with the dampness that fogs involve result in an exacerbation of rheumatoid and arthritic pain. Some doctors feel that a tendency to hibernate in winter, and lower activity levels could make the joints stiffer, making any movement extremely painful. However, the truth lies more in the fact that air pressure decreases on cold, damp or foggy days. The low air pressure causes the already inflamed tissues to expand, thereby aggravating the pain.

Early Morning Humidity Might Increase Cardiac Distress
A little fact is that the early morning humidity caused by winter fogs put patients with any kind of cardiovascular disease at risk. Elderly people, in particular whose circulation has become sluggish due to age, are at great risk of developing cardiac distress on foggy mornings. Lower temperatures can cause blood vessels to narrow. This means that your heart must work harder to move blood throughout the body. Since fog steals your body warmth, it causes your heart rate and blood pressure to increase as the heart works harder to do its work.

Depression might be aggravated as the sun shows up around noon. People whose emotional well-being and moods are impacted by whether or not the sun is shining might experience dysthymia, i.e. low level, persistent depression during winter. It could worsen on foggy days.
You can stay well and active even when dense fogs envelop the city and countryside. However, if you find some symptoms worrisome, or adversely affecting the quality of your life or daily routine; make a point of consulting your doctor. It could save your life, or that of a loved one.

Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors