How to Keep Healthy When Travelling in Countries with High Levels of Pollution
Outdoor air pollution is a large problem around the world, and it’s been linked to a number of health conditions, hospitalisationand even premature death. Big cities such as Delhi, Manila, Mexico City and Hong Kong are plagued by particularly bad air pollution, but smog from these areas can also affect rural areas as well. If you’re travelling to an area that is known for having high levels of air pollution, here are some tips to help keep yourself healthy.
Research in Advance
Do your research before you travel and check what the air quality is like before you arrive, so you can be prepared and take precautionary measures. Sites like AIRNow or the World Health Organisation are reliable sources of information.
Choose a Suitable Hotel
When you’re choosing your hotel, opt for one which has air conditioning in the room and if you can check what sized air filter it has, so you know how effective it will be at cleaning your air. When the air quality outside is poor, you’ll want to be able to rely on the air quality inside which will ensure you can relax and sleep well.
Minimise Strenuous Activities
On days where the air pollutant levels are particularly high, it’s a good idea to minimise the amount of strenuous activities you do outside, even if you’re really healthy, as you’ll be inclined to breathe in more and consequently breathe in more toxins. The poor air quality can affect your breathing immediately and can even lead to long-term consequences.
Consider Travelling at a Different Season
Pollution levels vary depending on the season and the weather, so if there is a high level of pollution in the area you want to visit, it may be worth visiting at a different time of the year. For example, in New Delhi, the pollution levels are much higher in autumn and winter, so if you’re susceptible to pollutants and allergens, it may be worth visiting during the spring or summer.
Use a Mask
In areas where air pollution is incredibly high, it can be beneficial to your health to use a protective face mask to minimise the amount of pollution you will breathe in. It’s worth carrying one when you travel, just in case, as even if your destination doesn’t have a high pollution rating, the conditions can quickly change.
Know When to Seek Medical Help
While you can take precautionary measures, sometimes the effects of air pollution can still be felt, particularly in the very young, elderly people or those with pre-existing conditions like COPD or asthma. Knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for will ensure you’re fully prepared, so you can seek medical advice should you need to. The signs to look out for include a dry throat, nose and skin, itching around the eyes, coughing, sneezing and wheezing, as well as feeling fatigued and dizzy. If you already have conditions that affect your respiratory system, be sure that you always carry your inhaler with you as you may become triggered more easily in these conditions.