5 Ways To Protect your Respiratory Tract from Smoke and Dust

There’s so many reasons for why you may want to protect yourself from smoke, dust or other airborne pollutants in today’s world, especially if you’re living in the city. Fumes from the cars passing by, second hand smoke inhalation from someone walking in front of you, and even irritants in the air such as a high pollen or dust particle count can all lead to nasal passage inflammation.

Bushfires are currently raging through Australia as they have been for months, devastating our homes and wildlife. Firefighters as well as locals staying in their homes have been inhaling smoke this entire time. It has been reported that some of these people will have developed chronic bronchitis, which is why it is important to ensure you focus on your lung health for a long time, even after the smoke has cleared out. The list below is for anyone in Australia currently struggling with respiratory issues from the poor air quality, but it is also valid for those with any kind of respiratory issue and seeking help for it such as asthma or bronchitis resulting from a cold.

1. Prevention

Try to stay inside as much as possible if you are in areas with visible smoke. Wind can bring the bushfire smoke to states otherwise completely unaffected by the fires so check the news’ weather report daily to check if your area will be affected and plan around accordingly. 
It’s recommended to seal the doors and windows if there are gaps by rolling up towels or sheets and placing them there, and turning on the air conditioner using the recycle inside air setting. You can open your windows and doors for fresh air once the smoke has passed.
Lastly, if you have to head out when it is smoky outside, wearing a mask that filters out smoke or holding a damp cloth over your mouth and nose can help reduce the amount you inhale.

2. Stay Hydrated

It is more important than ever to ensure you’re drinking enough water to combat the heat and poor air quality. Filtered water is best but any kind is of course fine. Dehydration negatively affects mucous membranes so that they’re less lubricated, causing irritation and cough. 

3. Eat Your Antioxidants

The easiest way to ensure you get a ton of different antioxidants is to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Aim to eat one fruit/vegetable serving from each of the following colours every day: white/brown, red, orange, yellow, green, and blue/purple. This is the most important dietary step because antioxidants are what assists your body to fight free radicals such as air pollutants that would otherwise damage your cells, including those in your respiratory tract. 

4. Enjoy Some Vitamin C

Vitamin C is not only an antioxidant (see point above for their benefits), but it is also a potent antihistamine that reduces the allergic response (coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, etc.)
The foods containing the highest concentrations of vitamin C include spinach and other leafy greens, capsicum, guavas, kiwifruit and broccoli.

5. Humidify

If the dry air is really irritating your throat and lungs, leaning over a humidifier or a bowl of hot water will help alleviate some of the irritation by moistening the airways. A drop or two of eucalyptus oil may also assist in decongestion to help you breathe easier too if this is an issue, otherwise just water is fine.

Looking after your health should be a priority if you wish to help those affected by the fires. The healthier you are, the more you can do to help however you choose to. One such way of helping is by spreading the word about the above strategies so that those on the front lines fighting the fires can use food as a tool to keep going stronger for longer.

If you’d like to talk more about nutritional strategies that can help with respiratory health or other conditions, you can book in to see me via the services page.


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