Dust pollution triggers breathing issues in healthy people, worsens plight of asthma patients in Delhi

Dust storms, pollution and soaring temperatures have caused difficulties for people, with many complaining of sore eyes and skin irritation as well.

Dust pollution triggers breathing issues in healthy people, worsens plight of asthma patients in Delhi
Pic courtesy: Reuters

Delhi: Dust storms, pollution and soaring temperatures have caused difficulties for people, with many complaining of sore eyes and skin irritation as well.

From dry cough to breathing problems and sore eyes to skin irritation, many healthy people in the city have suffered hazards of the severe dust pollution that Delhi has been reeling under for the past few days, which has worsened the condition of patients suffering from asthma, according to doctors.

Lung Surgeon at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH), Arvind Kumar, warned that what was more worrying, was that many people were "resorting to self-medication", especially use of inhalers, when faced with any breathing difficulties.

The air quality in Delhi remained 'severe' for the sixth day today as both government and private hospitals continued to get cases of breathing issues and eye-related complications.

"In our hospital, we are getting many people, who are complaining of dry cough, sore eyes and skin itching. And, these people were otherwise healthy. People are also complaining of choking while in asthmatic patients it has precipitated acute attack. The air quality has become pretty bad, so one has to be very careful," Kumar told PTI.

According to data shared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the PM10 level was recorded at 420 in Delhi today while the PM2.5 level was 107. The Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city remained severe at 402. Pollution level in neighboring regions also remained severe.

Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had on Thursday ordered stoppage of all civil construction activities across Delhi till Sunday as part of emergency measures to bring down the severe dust pollution as pollutant levels had spiked at several places across Delhi.

The dust kicked from construction sites in and around Delhi is one of the major contributors to the pollution and a severe health hazard, as they may contain silica too, which is dangerous if ingested.
Prashant Saxena, Head and Principal Consultant- Pulmonology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, at Max Hospital, Saket, said, "In the past few weeks there has been a change in the pattern of patients visiting the OPD."

"Patients with no history of respiratory ailments are complaining of a cough and breathing issues. This is due to the change in weather, combined with pollution and dust storms. Every day four to five new patients are displaying symptoms of respiratory ailments," he said.

Dust storms, pollution and soaring temperatures have caused difficulties for people, with many complaining of sore eyes and skin irritation as well.

Doctors at AIIMS, RML Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital also said they were getting such cases.

"Yes, besides breathing troubles, other ill-effects of dust pollution is on eyes and skin. People should not venture out as much as possible for the time being or take proper precautions like wearing sunglasses or N95 masks to keep the dust and pollutants away. After returning home, one should wash the face and eyes with iced water," Kumar of SGRH said.

The doctor advised that pregnant women should avoid going out as the health hazards suffered by an expectant mother would also percolate to the baby.

"Since Delhi has seen two big seasons of smog, so people, now know the problems ensuing from pollution. And, many of them are resorting to self-medication from prior experience. Under no circumstances, they should do that. Any medicine should be taken based on a prescription by a registered medical practitioner only.

"In my OPD, many patients told me that they were taking inhalers. Just like mask use had gone up during the smog, I reckon the inhaler use to has shot up," he said.

A chemist at a drug store in south Delhi, who did not wish to be named, said, "When the pollution level spikes, our sale of inhalers go up. In past few days, it has increased."

Mrinal Sircar, Director, Department of Pulmonology and Critical Care, Fortis Hospital, Noida, said, "People who are spending most of the time outside, such as office-goers, are more prone to the ill-effects of pollution."

"About 70 per cent of office-goers move using a bus, auto, metro or car. Exposure in a car is usually less as compared to other modes of transport. The toxic effects of exposure to pollution are mainly on the respiratory, cardiovascular, ophthalmologic and dermatological system," the doctor said.

For a couple of days earlier in the week, a thick haze had blanketed the skies in the national capital triggering health worries. The PM10 level had climbed to 778 in Delhi-NCR area and 824 in Delhi on Wednesday, bringing to light that severe pollution could be a 'summer-time problem' too.

Avi Kumar, Consultant, Pulmonology at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Okhla Road, said, "People should avoid going outdoors along with doing physical activities such as cycling, jogging or any other outdoor exercises, even in the morning.

"Air-purifying plants such as aloe vera, ivy and spider plant can be placed in the home and offices. People should consume fruits rich in vitamin C, magnesium, and food rich in omega fatty acids. Herbal, ginger and tulsi tea can also be taken," he said.

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