As haze and pollutant levels climb higher throughout Malaysia—and Kuala Lumpur’s Air Pollutant Index (API) reaches unhealthy levels, according to the Department of Environment—keeping yourself safe and protected from the haze should be top of mind.
Reports show Malaysia’s capital of Kuala Lumpur is currently experiencing the highest API levels (an unhealthy 138) since the last haze crisis in 2015, smothering the city with polluted air and low visibility.
During times of high API, it’s important to take appropriate measures to protect yourself—and your loved ones—from the negative short-term effects of haze, like eye irritation, coughing, headaches, dizziness, stuffy nose, shortness of breath, and even the potential long-term effects.
How to protect yourself against haze
Avoid exposureFirst things first: you want to limit your exposure as much as possible. This means, avoiding outdoor activities for yourself, your kids and your pets. Make sure to keep your windows and doors shut, as well as any openings that may let polluted air in, when API levels are high. Yes, locking yourself indoors all day long is a bit of a drag, but it’s one of the best ways to ensure you’re not coming into direct contact with the pollutants in the air.
Wear a maskIf you must be outside, get yourself an N95 mask, which helps to filter out the fine particles in the air during especially hazy days. These masks can be found in most shops and are preferable to the typical surgical-style mask people may wear to protect against germs, as they help to restrict more of the polluted air from entering your body.
Pay attention to air quality reports
Keep yourself informed by paying close attention to the air quality reports in your region. Knowing the API will allow you to take the proper precautions based on the air conditions outside.
To get real time air quality updates, visit HazeMalaysia.com.
Invest in an air purifier—or houseplants!To keep the air in your home extra clean, it’s not a bad idea to invest in an air purifier or air cleaner to reduce air contaminants from the outside that may be circulating within your home. An alternative to purchasing an air purification system? Houseplants! Especially those known to help clean the air around you, like the naturally purifying snake plant, aloe vera and peace lily.
Stay hydrated to protect your immune system
Drinking lots of water and eating hydrating fruits and vegetables is essential to combating the air pollutants absorbed through your skin and lungs during times of increased haze. “As our bodies are made up of at least 60% water, we depend on this rather simple substance to function. From regulating our body temperature to lubricating our joints, to keeping our living cells hydrated, water is vital to our health,” says Carina Lipod, NLD, Fitness & Nutrition Coach. Not only will staying hydrated and getting the right vitamins and nutrients help rid your body of toxins, it will help to keep your immune system healthy and may help to reduce haze-induced irritation of the throat and eyes.
To boost your immune system even more during heavy haze days, incorporate a nutritional supplement like Pegaga by PurelyB, a traditional Asian superfood blend comprised of nature’s most healing herbs and fruits—Pegaga (Gotu Kola), turmeric and papaya leaf, habbatus sauda and green apples and dates.
Concerned about potential pollutants in your water, too? Try a water ionizer for higher-quality, ultra-purified water.
Home Remedies to Alleviate Haze Symptoms
While limiting your exposure to haze is the best way to ensure minimal symptoms, it’s not always possible to completely avoid the outdoors when air pollutant levels are high. We’ve all got errands to run, jobs to get to and families to care for, so realistically, we’re going to have to leave out apartments at some point. (But, hey, if you can use the haze as an excuse for a major Netflix binge, more power to you!)
Inevitably, you will experience some of the unpleasant side effects of an elevated API. Large amounts of dust and smoke particles can cause irritation to the throat, eyes and sinuses, leading to haze-related symptoms like inflamed, dry sinuses, runny nose, sore throat, coughing fits, itchy eyes, headaches, dizziness and fatigue.
Luckily, there are some home remedies to help alleviate some of these uncomfortable symptoms until the haze dissipates.
For a sore throat
Certified naturopath, Amanda Teh, swears by this delicious and effective Chamomile-Manuka Popsicle recipe to soothe a sore throat. “Treating a sore throat is very dependant on the underlying cause. The common sore throat generally does not require any medication as symptoms will usually go away between 3-5 days,” says Teh, “Painkillers are often prescribed to treat sore throats and while they mainly provide temporary pain relief, they do not treat the root cause and may give you some unwanted side effects.”
What makes this home remedy so effective? The anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of chamomile help reduce pain, redness and swelling of the throat while. Not to mention, chamomile is an excellent relaxant to help calm down your nervous system and provide a bit of stress relief. It may even help you sleep better! And manuka honey has powerful antibacterial and antiseptic healing properties for wound healing and infections.
For a cough
Not only can a persistent cough lead to a sore, scratchy throat, it can be downright annoying! You don’t want to be that person hacking up a lung in the boardroom. And you don’t have to be! Did you know that liquorice root is a natural way to soothe a haze-induced cough? This recipe for liquorice root tea, a common herbal remedy used in ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, is known to help reduce inflammation, loosen phlegm and hydrate a dry, scratchy throat.
Not a fan of liquorice tea? That’s ok! We’ve got another great home remedy our co-founder, Stephanie Looi turns to any time she feels a cough coming on. The best part? You only need two ingredients: an orange and some salt—who knew?! When you can’t seem to knock that little tickle in the back of your throat, try out this Steamed Orange and Salt recipe and you’ll be feeling 100 percent in no time.
For sinus pain
You may also experience some sinus pain when air pollution is prevalent. While sinus pain can manifest in a few different ways, the most common signs are a pain, pressure or a puffy feeling around your face, specifically under or behind your eyes, nasal congestion, headaches and fatigue. To help reduce discomfort in your sinuses at home, there are a few things you can do, according to certified naturopath Johanna Arshad.
“Drinking warm water, herbal or infused teas, clear veggie or chicken broths can do wonders. They help dilute your mucus, promote drainage and clear up your clogged sinuses. Avoid sugary drinks, coffee or alcohol as these can be dehydrating and worsen your symptoms,” says Arshad. A combination of hot water, lemon, ginger and spices can help to open up sinuses in a matter of sips.
Or you can opt for a homemade spicy tonic of cayenne pepper, honey, ginger, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to help with congestion. According to Johanna, “this spicy yet soothing natural tonic helps thin out your mucus secretions and relieves the swelling around your narrowed nasal passages.”