Life on Mars

If you are of a certain generation then that might bring back memories of a certain time. Looking out of my windows to day I can easily imagine I’m living on Mars, a bright orange sky with no apparent sun to see. Everything has taken on an almost eerie feel, it even sounds strange.

Well of course we know its just dust in the sky, rather an awful amount of dust as it happens; but is it harmful?

To keep things scientific, we talk about air quality in terms of the tiny particles that can sometimes swirl around. You will find the term ‘PM’ talked about, this stands for ‘particulate matter’ and of course there are numbers that go with it. Anything below a figure of 50 is generally classed as good. The numbers can go up and down quite quickly and depend on all sorts of things, but right now we are recording figures of around 400-500. That’s very high and for some people a cause for concern.

We talk about dust, but actually it’s a bit more complicated – of course. The dust can actually be made up from all sorts of different sources, some even organic. They might be microscopic and very tiny, but even so they can present problems.

Obvious things are coughing and itchy eyes, but if you continue to breath this mixture deep into your lungs for any length of time you can cause irritation that might lead to a spasm or some form of chest pain. People who have allergies are going to be especially at risk right now.

So what can we do?  If you can stay inside, then do so. Keep your windows closed as much as you can. With all this stuff floating around us we also need to consider if there is anything we can do to stop any further emissions getting into this murky atmosphere. Open fires, log burning stoves etc all shove loads of particulate matter into the air we breath, as does driving around.

If you think this air has affected you, then first thing is to stay calm. Stay inside of you can, and generally a sitting, or half-sitting position will be best if you are finding breathing a bit of a struggle. If you have an allergy, or a condition such as asthma, then until this orange cloud leaves us, avoid anything strenuous. Of course, if you think your breathing is becoming very difficult, or someone you are looking after is, then don’t hesitate to call for an ambulance. It can be a bit hard to tell if someone is really breathless sometimes, and a useful test is if they really find it an effort to talk to you, then they are struggling. Breathlessness can be made worse by anxiety, that’s fairly obvious. So, if you are looking after someone and you are concerned try not to let it show too much if you can. Your calmness can be a great help in these situations.

What about masks? Well, we’ve all become very used to these over the last couple of years, to be aby good though you really do need the professional type; these would be the FFP2 certified ones.

If you see any little green people walking around that’s possibly a result of a little too much Rioja! Stay safe, and stay well.

Dr Marcus Stephan

My views are entirely personal and do not reflect the view or position of any organisation. You should always consult your own medical practitioner regarding any concerns that you may have. Never stop taking any prescribed medication without first checking with your doctor.

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Dr Marcus Stephan

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