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As AQI Goes 'Off the Charts' in Delhi, Residents Face Respiratory Health Crisis

A rickshaw puller waits for customers on a smoggy morning in the old quarters of Delhi. (Reuters)

A rickshaw puller waits for customers on a smoggy morning in the old quarters of Delhi. (Reuters)

Not only the pre-existing patients of COPD or asthma but patients without any medical history of respiratory issues have developed serious problems, doctors suggested.

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Sagar Gupta

As the air quality continues to dip with denser pollutants in the Delhi-NCR region, hospitals recorded a whopping spike in the number of patients suffering from pulmonary diseases.

In the past 20 days, a sudden spike in the number of patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been recorded, patients who were earlier stable on one/two inhaler/s or one medicine, their symptoms have worsened, said Dr. Sharad Joshi, Principal Consultant (Pulmonology) at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali.

"There has been an increase in the number of cases but also in the severity of the cases. People who were quite stable a few days back have again come to us with acute exacerbation. We admitted them in the intensive care unit (ICU). One of my patients, in his late 40s, has a known case of COPD. He was fairly okay at home taking medication. Around five days back, he came to us with severe respiratory distress that he had to be put on ventilator support," Dr. Sandeep Nayar, Senior Director, and Head, Centre for Chest and Respiratory Disease at BLK Super Speciality Hospital said.

Not only the pre-existing patients of COPD or asthma but patients without any medical history of respiratory issues have developed serious problems. "We have started receiving patients with an age between 24 and 27 complaining about chest tightness or suffocation, especially when they are working out or in some cases even during a normal activity," Dr. Joshi added.

Doctors added that people who recovered from Covid-19 are also once again complaining of respiratory problems as their lungs are still recovering from the deadly virus. Since October, there has been an increase of 30-40% in the number of patients complaining of respiratory issues, Dr. Nayyar added.

Doctors suggested that Delhiites should practice certain precautions like- remain indoors as much as possible, wear masks, use an air purifier, practice breathing exercises, and follow a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, while constantly keeping yourself hydrated.

Delhi has reported more than 6,000 new Covid-19 cases daily since November 3 and 13 percent of this is estimated to be due to increased air pollution, the IMA (Indian Medical Association) said on November 7.

A new study published by Cardiovascular Research, an international journal of the European Society of Cardiology has linked air pollution to 15 per cent of the world’s Covid-19 deaths.


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