Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The smog that has set in post Diwali in the national capital Delhi, has begun to show its dark side, with more cases of people complaining of asthma, allergies, severe breathlessness and other respiratory problems.
As the city grapples with the worst smog to hit Delhi in 17 years, doctors and experts say that besides spike in fresh cases, health complications have aggravated in people having a history of asthma, allergy or other related ailments. “Earlier 15-20% pollution-related ailment cases were reported at our hospital. But now these have gone up to 60%.
“The most common problem is related to respiration. But this time we are seeing a rather large number of cases of severe breathlessness, coughing and sneezing and bronchiolitis due to the smog,” says Dr SP Byotra, senior consultant and chairman of the department of medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH).
“Children and elderly are the most vulnerable to infections and allergies due to smog and pollution. So, they should take extra care, and try not to venture during early morning and at dusk when the toxic level is highest,” Byotra says.
The high court has compared Delhi to a gas chamber, while the Centre has termed it an 'emergency situation', calling a meeting of environment ministers of all neighbouring states tomorrow to curb stubble burning by farmers.
Apart from respiratory issues, residents of Delhi/NCR have also been complaining about burning eyes the moment one steps out of the house.
According to experts, it is estimated that over 20% of the world’s population suffers from allergic diseases such as allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis, atopic eczema and anaphylaxis. “We are seeing a rise of 60-70% in ailment cases related to pollution. Breathlessness, asthma, eye and skin allergies case have jumped. We are getting patients as young as a two-month-old baby who had bronchiolitis.
“People who had a history of or are predisposed to such ailments, such cases have also risen. Children getting affected more, as their immunological state is low. Besides, the infections are taking longer time to subside,” says Dr
Rahul Nagpal, Director and Head, Pediatrics, at Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj. “Children should as far as possible avoid venturing out in the open early morning and late evening, and peak hours of the pollution. The number of cases have increased due to the smog in the last few days,” says Dr V K Paul, pediatrician.
Asthma is a worldwide problem, with estimated 300 million affected individuals and global prevalence which ranges from 1-18% in different geographical regions. Air pollution is killing nearly eight lakh people annually in the South East Asian Region with India alone accounting for over 75% of the casualties caused by cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer, according to WHO.
According to a recent WHO report, a few Indian cities, including Delhi, Patna and Gwalior were identified as among the severely polluted cities in the world. Experts say global warming and pollution are among the major factors responsible for causing allergic ailments. Cases of asthma and allergy have also doubled at Apollo Hospital in south Delhi, with doctors saying cases of coughing, sneezing, and eye and skin allergy on the rise in the wake of thick smog that has engulfed the city for past few days.
(With PTI inputs)