Ask a Maui Doctor: How Can I Control VOG Symptoms?
Doctors at Minit Medical answer some of the questions submitted by readers.
Each week, a doctor from Minit Medical Kahului or Lahaina will answer questions that have been submitted by readers. Submit your own medical related questions to our doctors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask a Maui Doctor” column.
Q: The VOG has been so bad lately, what are the side effects and how can I control my symptoms?
A: Vog is what we call our tropical version of smog. It forms when volcanic dust combines with environmental gases and moisture in the presence of sunlight, creating a haze that hangs over the islands.
Side effects of this natural air pollution consist mainly of allergic & respiratory ones. These include eye irritation, runny nose, congestion, sneezing, post-nasal drainage, scratchy sore throat, and cough. The difference between this and typical colds or other viral upper respiratory infections is that fever, chills, sweats & muscle aches are absent. Vog can also trigger asthma episodes, causing shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and fatigue. The good news is that the general population of Hawai’i typically doesn’t experience the above symptoms unless vog levels are high; they are much more common in people with pre-existing conditions (environmental allergies, emphysema, asthma).
Unfortunately when vog is significant, there isn’t an effective measure that allows us to still enjoy nature. If you have allergies or asthma, definitely continue taking your meds – antihistamines & inhalers. The best remedy is to stay inside with closed windows and doors. Run the AC or a HEPA filter if you have one. Avoid or limit physical exertion – the nasal passages help filter vog, but exercise increases mouth breathing. You should also try to maintain adequate hydration.
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