Hospitals across the national capital are seeing an increase in patients coming in with pollution-related ailments like sore throat and breathing issues owing to the air quality deteriorating in Delhi.
Delhi recorded "severe" on the air quality index (AQI) for three days on the trot till Sunday due to emissions accumulating from fireworks on Diwali and stubble burning amid unfavourable meteorological conditions -- low temperature, wind speed and mixing height.
Dr Nikhil Bante, Consultant, Pulmonology Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, said pulmonologists and cardiologists are seeing worsening of chronic respiratory issues and heart problems across hospitals in the national capital.
Post Diwali, there has been a spike in cases of worsening cough and nasal congestion, he said, adding that there has been a 20 to 30 per cent increase in patients coming to OPDs with worsening respiratory symptoms.
Dr Akshay Budhraja, Pulmonologist, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka, said, ''A rise in cases of difficulty in breathing, runny nose, sore throat, chest infections, allergic reactions and aggravated asthma are being seen. While individual sensitivity to the health impacts of particulate matter can vary and depend upon age, health status, pregnant women, socioeconomic status, occupational exposures and smoking habits of the person exposed, it usually leaves an ill effect."
Spending a few minutes in such polluted air may cause conjunctivitis, shortness of breath along with headache, sleepiness, reduced alertness, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, he warned.
People can also experience skin allergies due to the situation.
Heavy metals like potassium chlorate, sulphur, arsenic sulphite, aluminum and copper increase the levels of residual particulate matter (RPM) and suspended particulate matter (SPM) in the air that cause skin allergies, said Budhraja.
"The most common pollutant released from firecrackers - Nitrogen Oxide - triggers skin irritations, eye problems and respiratory problem in children," he added.
So, what are the precautions one can take?
Doctors advise wearing a good anti-pollution mask or an N95 mask since cloth masks can prevent coronavirus but not inhalation of particulate matter.
"This problem is being seen for the last five years. People should avoid late night walks and early morning walks. They should plan their outdoor activities according to the air quality index. Elderly people, children, asthmatics and those with chronic heart diseases are more prone to getting affected and therefore, apart from their regular medications, they should take additional care," Bante said.
Schools should avoid outdoor assemblies, sports activities and other physical activities in the early morning hours, Budhraja said. He also advised using plants like aloe vera and ivy inside the home for purifying the air.
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