Doctors and experts say Covid-19 protocols such as lockdown and masks have kept asthma and other respiratory ailments at bay in the country.
People with asthma and other similar conditions are considered more vulnerable as the Covid-19 mainly targets the respiratory system, according to experts. But more than a year after the pandemic, doctors say they have seen a significant drop in other respiratory cases due to masks, social distancing, sanitization and other Covid-19 norms.
Dr Satyanarayana Mysore, HOD and Consultant (Pulmonology and Lung Transplant Physician) Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru, said, “Masks avoid the general allergens from entering the system. People wearing masks are protected from pollen grains and other such allergens in the air directly entering the body which helps asthmatic patients a great deal. We have seen a drastic drop in allergic rhinitis post Covid which is definitely the gift masks have given. Hospitals would be flooded with such cases during this season otherwise. Cloth mask may not give the desired protection, but a simple surgical mask will. People say they feel suffocated if they wear masks for a few hours. But suffocation is subjective since medical professionals wear double masks for around 10 to 12 hours a day and are fine with it.
“Rather than giving the credit to masks alone, we should say the collective Covid protocol such as sanitization, physical distance, staying indoors and wearing masks along with the drop in air pollution due to lockdown and lesser vehicular movement has contributed to a drastic improvement in health conditions of patients with Asthma and similar respiratory issues.”
Doctors from other parts of the country have also seen fewer patients with chronic respiratory problems or asthma after the Covid outbreak. “Masks do help in asthmatic patients by preventing air pollution triggered asthma attack. Even pollens present in atmospheres can worsen asthma, patients wearing masks are protected by not getting exposed to them. Masks also cut down on various upper airway infections which otherwise trigger acute exacerbation of asthma” says Dr. Sandeep Nayar, Senior Director and HOD, Centre for Chest and Respiratory Disease, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi.
Dr Prashant Chhajed, Senior Consultant (Respiratory Medicine and Sleep Medicine Specialist) Fortis Hiranandani Vashi, Navi Mumbai, said he has noticed a significant drop in patients rushing to the hospitals due to exacerbation. “Due to the reduction in exposure to pollution, the severity of the infection has come down significantly. There is a reduction in influenza like illness related to asthma.”
The Covid protocols have collectively helped patients of asthma and other related ailments. Dr Srikanta J T, Consultant Pediatric Intensivist and sleep medicine, Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru, pointed out the discipline the norms have brought in people. “This is generally a season of multiple viral infections and asthma. But because the schools are shut and children hardly meet people outside their homes, spread of infection has nullified. Even if people meet anyone, they consciously maintain physical distance, wear mask and avoid direct contact however possible. This has brought down the wheezing issue in children by 50%. Children wear mask even while playing. Due to reduced vehicular movement, pollution has come down which has only helped these kids more. Even if we see children with asthma or related respiratory issues, they are treated in the outpatient department and don’t need hospitalization. Inhaling allergens have been completely avoided by the constant use of masks,” said Dr Srikanta.