City hospitals see 20% rise in respiratory distress cases

Doctors advise Delhiites to avoid going out as much as possible over air quality

Published - November 10, 2017 01:50 am IST - NEWDELHI

 Lining up: Doctors have said that the current trend of high instances of respiratory illnesses is likely to continue till air quality improves.

Lining up: Doctors have said that the current trend of high instances of respiratory illnesses is likely to continue till air quality improves.

City hospitals have registered a spike of 20% in the number of patients coming in with respiratory distress due to the heightened air pollution levels. Doctors are now advising Delhiites to avoid going out as much as possible and to be aware of the dangers they are subjecting themselves to by “over exposure” to poor air quality.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences director Dr. Randeep Guleria said: “There has been a 20% surge in respiratory disease patients at the OPDs in AIIMS. Once again, I want to warn that patients may die due to the current pollution levels, especially the ones who have respiratory issues. This is a silent killer and causes long-term harm to the lungs of children. This can manifest as multiple health complications in the future including lung cancer.”

Longer recovery time

Dr. Vivek Nangia, director and head of department, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital said, “There has been a 25% increase in OPD footfall in the last 24 hours of patients with various kinds of respiratory stress, asthma, COPD, etc. These comprise of not only first time walk-in patients but also those with a history of such illness. The situation is grim with the disease being more protracted due to the severely poor air quality. This is leading to longer recovery times, more dependence on steroids, antibiotics and inhalers. The situation will continue till the pollution levels are brought under control urgently.”

The situation remained similar across various city hospitals with Dr. (Prof) S.K. Chhabra, HOD Pulmonology, Primus Super Speciality Hospital, too confirming that the patient load has increased by around 25-30%.

“This is because of the current weather condition, stubble burning in Punjab and the pollutants present in the atmosphere. The causes are almost the same as it happens every year but the weather this year is more favourable for pollution to build up. Those who already suffer from asthma or COPD are more vulnerable...if the symptoms worsen, one should definitely consult a doctor. This is the time when the general population have chest infection and irritation in the eyes,” he said.

‘Avoid walks’

Doctors advise people to stay indoors as much as possible and morning and late evening walks should be avoided, specially by children and the elderly. Pregnant women and newborns are at a very high risk. Studies have also shown that this weather affects and can cause premature delivery.

Dr. Prashant Saxena, Pulmonologist, Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, said: “Delhi has recently seen a rise in air pollution levels across every part of the city. The chilly weather, along with smoke and smog, poses one of the biggest threats especially to those who are prone to or have flare-ups of respiratory problems like asthma and chronic bronchitis.”

Dr. Hemant Goel, Respiratory Medicine, Asian Hospital added that their hospital has registered a 30% increase in patient footfall.

“For the last one week, 3 out of every 10 patients we saw every day were new. Smog reduces lung function even in healthy people. Don’t take chances on days when air quality is poor. The best approach is to spend less time outdoors,” he said.

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