4 Malaysian Habits That Are Killing Your Respiratory System

These everyday practices are doing more harm than good


BY denise lim

4 Malaysian Habits That Are Killing Your Respiratory System

What’s the one thing that your body constantly takes in? Yup, it’s air. Yet, most people don’t realise that certain lifestyles actually jeopardise their respiratory health. Besides doing loads of cardio, Dr. Helmy Haja Mydin, consultant in respiratory medicine at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, tells us why your respiratory system will thank you if you stop doing the following pronto.

Letting Your Air-Conditioner Run Full Blast

Hah! We bet most of you are guilty of this respiratory-damaging lifestyle choice! “Rather than finding the right temperature, Malaysians tend to enjoy sleeping in a very cold room,” Dr. Helmy says. Although cranking up the AC makes you feel good in our warm weather, the after-effects of the practice prove otherwise.

Sleeping in a 16ºC room will reduce its overall humidity. Cold, dry air is especially bad for those who have asthma, as it will irritate the airway, he says. Besides that, it can also lead to dehydrated skin, irritated sinuses and throat, and itchy eyes.

The Fix: Keep the room temperature between 24ºC and 25ºC.

Overdoing the Diffuser

Returning to a pleasant, aroma-filled home can be a welcome balm to a hard day at work. Almost everyone has an essential oil diffuser these days, as they’re touted to help improve sleep quality, elevate mood and ward off illness. However, Dr. Helmy warns the scent of the oils can irritate those with a sensitive airway.

On top of that, adding to the humidity of your surroundings can be a problem. A moist environment is a breeding ground for mould. And having mould in the air can potentially cause lung disease, Dr. Helmy explains.

The Fix: Avoid using a diffuser for an extended period of time.

Doing Shisha 

You’re well aware of the fact that smoking cigarettes is bad for your health, but you might not know that your fondness for shisha is equally as toxic because of its tobacco content.

Related: A Respiratory Expert Shares How You Can Slay In The Gym

“Shisha is not healthier than smoking – it’s as dangerous,” Dr. Helmy says. Each shisha session is potentially the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes, as you generally inhale the smoke more deeply. In addition, it tends to take place in a social setting and, therefore, your exposure typically lasts for a longer period of time, possibly making it more harmful than smoking cigarettes, he adds.

The Fix: Avoid shisha. If you have to do it, watch the clock.


Apart from shisha, another oral fixation that has gained popularity in recent years is vaping. The community in Malaysia is growing, with vape stores popping up in almost every neighbourhood. Many smokers think vaping is a legit way to give up cigarettes. However, due to the prevalence, non-smokers are picking up the habit too – without realising the negative consequences.

“When you inhale something artificial into your lungs, it’s going to cause damage,” Dr. Helmy says, before cautioning that those with asthma should avoid it altogether, as it will trigger the condition. The first major concern with vaping is the juices are made everywhere and anywhere without much quality control, he continues. The second is that the nicotine content of the juice will increase your tolerance to the chemical, triggering non-smokers to pick up cigarette smoking eventually.

The Fix: Don’t vape! You don’t want to start smoking cigarettes.


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