New Delhi: Delhi hospitals are seeing rise in footfall of patients suffering from respiratory and breathing complications due to pollution. Doctors recommend everyone, especially the elderly, to stay indoors as much as possible. The overall air quality index of Delhi was recorded at 393 on Thursday by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which falls in the ‘very poor’ category.
Dr. Anil Sachdeva, a pulmonologist and paediatrician at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, “I am seeing about 20 patients a day, and seven out of 10 are complaining of some sort of allergy, cough or respiratory problem, breathing complications, chest congestion and even watery eyes. Fifty per cent of them are fresh cases.”
He said he has advised parents to keep their children indoors as much as possible until the air quality improves.
I am in fact writing it on prescriptions now ‘please don’t move outdoor’ and I have asked the parents to ensure children don’t go out in the morning and evening, and wear masks on way to school, Dr. Sachdeva added.
A day after recording “severe” pollution, Delhi’s air quality improved slightly to ‘very poor’ category Wednesday after wind speed picked up and dispersed pollutants even though the stubble fire count increased.
On Wednesday, PM2.5 (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, also referred to as fine particles) was recorded at 215 against the WHO’s safety limit of 25. Fine particulates can be a matter of more serious health concern than PM10. Since they are so small and light, fine particles tend to stay longer in the air than heavier particles. Fine particles are also known to trigger or worsen chronic disease such as asthma, heart attack, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.
The PM10 level (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres) in Delhi stood at 370, against the limit of 50, according to the CPCB data.
Vivek Nangia, pulmonologist and head, Lung Center at Fortis hospital in Vasant Kunj, said his OPD is also seeing a “sudden increase” in footfall in the last few weeks.
We are recommending that a person’s mobility out of home should be restricted as much as possible. People should not use their own vehicles, but take public transport, more so metro services, as they are mostly underground, he said.
Dr. Nangia also warned morning joggers to keep off the streets for a while as pollutant level is higher and more toxic at that time.
It is dangerous to venture out and especially for pregnant women and children, and persons with chronic heart and lung diseases, or those who are asthmatic should be more cautious, he said.
On masks, both the doctors advised to use N91 or N95 masks to help keep fine particulates out.
Surgical masks do not serve any purpose, so the specialised masks should be used. People, especially children when they move out should either wear a mask or put a wet piece of cloth over their mouth, Dr. Nangia said.
He also advised use of air purifiers at home or at office and other indoor public places can help curb the ill-effects of pollution and added having plants indoor can also be helpful.
Doctors at AIIMS, RML Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital have also reported similar cases of breathing problems. Rajesh Chawla, Senior Consultant (Critical care, Pulmonary and Sleep disorders), Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals here, said the numbers of patients have “definitely increased in the last week or so, almost 1.5 times”.
Many asthmatic patients, particularly the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) patients, are coming in with acute attacks, or some other problems such as acute breathlessness. This is being witnessed in all age groups, he said.
“Children shouldn’t go outside to exercise or play. Right now, it is better to indulge in indoor games. People should not venture out, as much as possible. Window panes should be kept rolled up in a car, and morning and evening walks should be avoided as of now,” he added.
The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority has urged Delhiites to use public transport for the first 10 days of November when the air quality of the national capital is likely to further deteriorate.
World Health Organisation (WHO) released a set of guidelines to help protect children from the adverse effects of both indoor and outdoor air pollution. These guidelines include general steps like avoiding household and agricultural waste burning and opting for composting and using local services for recycling and garbage disposal.
“Raise awareness among your community about the health impacts of air pollution, and work with healthcare providers, community leaders, and relevant authorities to promote policies that reduce air pollution and protect child health.” It said further in the statement issued on the WHO website.
WHO recommends reducing children’s exposure to air pollution caused by vehicle exhaust emissions, keeping up to date with immunizations and ensuring healthy diets.
With inputs from PTI.
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