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Delhi’s Health Alert: Surge in Prolonged Coughing and Throat Infections due to Air Pollution

In addition, the pollution here has made bronchial asthma worse in many patients, according to doctors. They also said that people of all ages are being affected by it.

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Delhi's Health Alert

Delhi’s Health Alert: Delhi hospitals are seeing more people with long-lasting coughing, throat infections, eye irritation, and nose discharge. This is because the air quality is getting worse and has reached the “severe” level in many parts of the city. In addition, the pollution here has made bronchial asthma worse in many patients, according to doctors. They also stated that it affects people of all ages.

Both public and private hospitals have told people not to go outside early in the morning to work out or go for a walk, and they have been told to wear masks when they go to work, the market, or other places. The air quality in many parts of Delhi was in the “severe” zone on Thursday, and the city was covered in a smoky haze for the third day in a row.

Delhi’s Health Alert: Surge in Prolonged Coughing and Throat Infections

Scientists have warned that smog levels in the Delhi-NCR region will rise in the next two weeks. This is because there are more farm fires and bad weather. This is a worry because the air quality measure has already gone over 400 in many places. Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant in internal medicine at Apollo Hospital in Delhi, said, “Health problems caused by pollution have been on the rise in Delhi for a long time. We are now seeing cases of long-term coughing, throat infections, eye irritation, nasal discharge, and other kinds of irritation.” He said that the government needs to take action to stop pollution and that people as individuals “aren’t really able to do much, other than maybe be careful.”

Chatterjee said that people should use good air filters at home if they can. Other doctors at hospitals agreed with him, and a group of private schools said that yoga and a few other things that used to be done outside have been moved inside.

The Medical Superintendent of Holy Family Hospital, Dr. Sumit Ray, said,  “We are getting more OPD and IPD patients for respiratory illnesses. We have seen a 25 per cent to 30 per cent rise in such illnesses in the last four-five days. Every year, these illnesses spring up around this time and worsen around Diwali and post festivities.” Those patients being diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) cases are those who are middle-aged or elderly, the doctor said, adding COPD takes time to manifest itself, hence the cohort suffering from it is older. School-going children and younger people are reporting to hospitals with bronchial asthma, Ray said.

He said that the hospital started writing “pollution-related” illness as a diagnosis for ICU patients in 2021. “For that to happen, we need to make sure the symptoms aren’t caused by another infection.” That takes more time. In 10 to 12 days, Ray said, “we might be better able to say if there are patients whose conditions were caused only by pollution and not by an infection that was already there.”

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The director of Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital in Delhi, Dr. Subhash Giri, said, “In the last one week, we have seen an increase in patients coming to OPD and emergency wings with a spike in existing conditions. There are young patients coming to the hospital with worsening of existing bronchial asthma condition and elderly patients with a spike in symptoms of COPD.” The hospital is planning on starting a separate OPD for such patients, if there is a further increase in such patients coming to the facility, he said.

Dr Ambarish Joshi, senior pulmonologist, Primus Super Specialty Hospital, said, “Due to pollution we are getting several cases on a daily basis. As of now, we have 28 beds occupied, with 14 of those being in the ICU, and two patients on ventilators. These patients have reported a series of discomforting symptoms, which include itchy throats, burning eyes, and exacerbated allergies, along with congested lungs.” Sudha Acharya, Chairperson, National Progressive Schools’ Conference (NPSC), said, “Schools are going well and we have 100 per cent attendance of students too.”

“We suggest students wear masks in case of any discomfort. But yes, there are certain initiatives. In case of deteriorating air quality in the city, we suspend outdoor activities and shift them indoors. Even now, we don’t let students go out in the morning unless it is sunny outside. Yoga activities have been shifted to the auditorium from the field. Presently, we are allowing students to step out only after 10.30 AM,” Acharya said.

The Directorate of Education in Delhi, however, said that even though pollution levels have gone up, no extra steps have been taken and that “we are continuing with our previous norms.”