NEW DELHI: Hospitals in the city are teeming with people suffering from cough, nasal congestion, shortness of breath and even asthma attacks as eye-stinging smog blankets Delhi. With Delhi’s air quality remaining ‘severe’, doctors advised a return to wear masks to guard against pollution. While forecasters on Wednesday predicted the air quality to improve due to stronger winds, Delhi’s overall AQI stood at 426 at 9.10 am.
At Holy Family Hospital in Okhla, there has been a 30 per cent increase in such patients coming to out-patient departments, said Dr Sumit Ray, head of department of critical care. Last year, the hospital started writing “pollution-related” in diagnosis in what was probably a first for a medical facility in the city. “There were two ICU patients for whom we wrote that diagnosis. For writing that diagnosis, you have to rule out several probable factors that could have triggered the illness. For the patients who are currently admitted, we will need a few more days to arrive at a diagnosis,” Ray said.
Shedding light on the problems faced by patients, Dr Ashish Kumar Prakash, consultant (respiratory and sleep medicine) at Medanta in Gurugram, said they had been attending to patients complaining of cough, nasal congestion and breathing difficulty since Diwali.
“Currently, I have 25 to 30 patients in my OPD with such conditions and the entire unit has approximately 50-75 cases in total. Patients suffering from respiratory illnesses such as asthma are reporting acute exacerbations, an increase in symptoms such as coughing, dyspnea and acute nasal problems,” he said.
Prakash said apart from worsening AQI, the change in weather was another factor behind respiratory illnesses. “As the weather transitions to cold and breezy, the cold, dry air and sudden shifts in the weather can irritate the airways, causing one to produce more mucus and leading to exacerbations if the patients are not taking medications properly,” he said.