Mother of 3 asthma children worried by high PSI levels

Mother of 3 asthma children worried by high PSI levels

SINGAPORE - Her first child was born in 1997, when Singapore suffered its worst haze with PSI levels hitting 226.

It was a harrowing time for Madam Norashikin Mawi as her firstborn was shuttled in and out of hospital to be treated for bronchitis. Nadiah Khalisah Kamis, now 16, was diagnosed with asthma, as were Madam Norashikin's two subsequent children, now aged 14 and 13.

So when the PSI hit a high of 155 on Monday night, Madam Norashikin was holding her breath again.

The 41-year-old operations coordinator, who also has asthma, has warned them to stay indoors as much as they can and keep the windows in her three-room flat closed at all times despite the heat. They do not have air-conditioning at home.

Nadiah, a Secondary 4 student at Greenridge Secondary School, has not been too affected by the haze because she has been staying indoors.

She had a milder version of asthma when she was younger and cannot get too excited because it could trigger an attack.

But it has not been easy on her brother, Muhd Nur Hidayat, 14, who has the worst case of asthma among the siblings. He is the only one who still has to use an inhaler. He has three inhalers - in his bag, the kitchen and near his bed.

The boy loves running and sepak takraw but he cannot do these activities for now. He has developed a cough after staying outdoors for a while over the weekend.

'It's boring'

He said: "I went to the Choa Chu Kang library to study today. I cannot go out to play sports. It's boring."

Madam Norashikin, a widow, said her son's last serious asthma attack happened last November. "It started with a blocked nose. Then he was coughing the whole night and couldn't sleep. The doctor gave him oxygen the next day," she said.

But the worried mother knows that she cannot keep her son indoors for long. "He's a boy. I can't hold him back. I just told them to drink more water," she said.

The children lead active lives and enjoy sports like badminton and basketball.

But for now, the teenagers are staying indoors.

Siti Amyliyah is content to stay home to enjoy her Korean dramas, but her older sister is disappointed. "I am sad that I cannot go out with my friends because of the weather," Nadiah said.

Madam Norashikin, who has not had an asthma attack for six years, knows what it is like to be growing up with the condition.

She said: "I couldn't run or get too excited. I've experienced asthma attacks before so I know how tiring it can be."

Though her children have not had an attack recently and Madam Norashikin feels well except for an eye irritation, she is still anxious. "Every time I hear one cough, I will get a bit worried," she said.

"But it wasn't as tough as it was when they were younger," she added.

And the hazy skies are adding to her woes.

"I'm worried, especially every time the PSI level hits 100 and above. I don't know if it would still go up," she said.

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