New Delhi, November 19-The air we breathe today has reached dangerous and alarming levels, with a potential to alter our lifestyle. Cities covered with thick layers of smog have become a daily sight. In October, the Air Quality Index in Delhi was recorded beyond 1200 mark. Schools had to be shut down as the poisonous air filled the lungs of kids and adults. What followed were the symptoms of cough, nausea and respiratory problems people from all walks of lives.
Various doctors and health experts have been issuing warning that children, expecting mothers, working population and senior citizens are high risk age groups.
Children are at the risk of developing, throat infections, headache, nausea, respiratory problems and reduced learning ability. In expecting mothers, high exposure to pollutants can lead to pre-term delivery, with possible birth defects and growth restrictions. Office goers may experience upset bowel function, dizziness, respiratory problems and may develop irritable behaviour. In senior citizens, air pollution can severly affect immune system, cause itchy eyes, skin rashes, sore throat. Asthma patients are at greater risk.
Speaking to Healthwire, Dr. Prashant Saxena, Head of Department, Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, said, “There is no doubt that poor air quality poses a great threat to survival. Adding to this is the Diwali season, and with quality of air being compromised both indoors and outdoors, it has a direct impact on the health of children, expecting mothers, and senior citizens. We have seen a substantial increase in the number of patients complaining of respiratory diseases like COPD, asthma, bronchitis and their flare-ups. There is also an increase in cardiac problems like heart attacks and chest pain etc. Associated allergic problems like nasal discharge/sneezing, headache, eye burning, sore throat etc have also been observed, especially in children. Moreover, maternal exposure can cause fatal growth retardation, fatal deaths and retarded growth of child post-delivery.”
On the rise of respiratory ailments and what kind of precautionary measures one should take, he said, “We see a rise of about 15-20 % in the cases both in OPD and emergency due to respiratory ailments. A lot of patients who were recently discharged in a stable condition, were seen revisiting the OPDs with many being readmitted. One can take precautionary measures like – get vaccinated every year for flu, wear N95 or N99 masks when in polluted environment or if you are at risk of attack of asthma or COPD due to pollution, visit your doctor before start of the season, understand drugs to be used in emergency, and avoid smoking areas.”
He also suggested a few tips to keep in mind in order to avert he ill-effects of pollution.
Do’s and Don’ts
-Wash your eyes with clean water to minimise irritation
-Avoid bursting crackers on festivals and low quality incense sticks that create smoke causing indoor pollution.
-Avoid travelling during peak hours within city.
-You should quit smoking as your lungs are already battling pollution outside.
-Keep a mask handy to avoid heavy pollution. You should give preference to N95 and N99 masks.