As air quality in Delhi-NCR deteriorates and falls under the “very poor” category, leading city pulmonologists said on Thursday that they are seeing several new patients who never had respiratory disease as the winter sets in.
They also cautioned people with pneumonia, bronchitis and other lung diseases to exercise much care and avoid outdoor activities.
“There has been an increase in patients in OPD and those requiring admission with pneumonia, bronchitis, viral infections and related URI, LRTI, asthma and COPD exacerbations. This seems to be usual as seen every year with the arrival of winter, co-existing with some degree of pollution levels,” Vikas Maurya, Director and HoD, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, told IANS.
It remains to be seen how much effect of pollution will be there this season on respiratory illnesses in the next few days or weeks.
“Currently, days are still warm and sunny, so pollution also spreads out and is not so close to earth, thereby not able to produce its ill-effects as much as it does when we have cold winters,” he added.
On Wednesday, Delhi’s particulate matter (PM) 2.5 pollution levels were three to four times above the national standard of 60 micrograms per cubic metre for 24 hours.
According to Mayank Saxena, Senior Consultant, Department of Pulmonology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali, air pollution is expected to rise in the coming months as happens every year.
“We see a lot of new patients who never had respiratory disease presenting with uncontrolled cough, cold and burning sensation in their eyes. Patients with pre-existing respiratory illness may have an increase in symptoms from moderate to severe,” Saxena told IANS.
“We see and expect a lot of asthma exacerbations at this time. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) patients who are already in a severe state may require hospitalisation. The focus should be on exposing less to pollution wherever possible using N-95 masks, HEPA filters and air purifiers,” he informed.
Firecrackers on Diwali cause air as well as noise pollution. On burning, firecrackers release toxic air pollutants like CO, NO x, SO2, O3, black carbon and particulates leading to production of dense clouds of smoke. This affects eyes, throat, lungs, heart and skin.
“The concentration of dust increases and so it severely affects those with a history of asthma and allergic bronchitis. The air pollutants released by them precipitates the underlying chronic respiratory diseases like COPD and ILD, thereby increasing hospitalisation rates and medication use,” said Mitali Agrawal, Associate Consultant, Department of Pulmonology, Max Hospital, Gurugram.
The toxic gases can cause severe reactive airway dysfunction (RADS) in absolutely healthy people too, experts said.