Poor air quality driving 50% rise in lung, chest problems in Delhi-NCR

New Delhi: Amid deteriorating air quality levels, there has been a 50 per cent increase in cases of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other chest problems in Delhi and around, city doctors said on Thursday.

The overall air quality in Delhi on Thursday morning continued to be in the “poor” category, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) at 256, as per SAFAR-India.

According to the daily bulletin of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the national capital’s AQI, as of 4 p.m. on October 25, was 243. Neighbouring Noida and Ghaziabad were also in the “poor” category, with AQIs of 212 and 203, respectively. Gurguram, however, fared better with an AQI of 190, falling in the “moderate” category.

“Amidst the rising levels of pollution in Delhi-NCR, we are witnessing a notable increase in patients with COPD and chest problems coming to us in our OPD these days. We are seeing roughly 30 to 35 patients each day in our OPD, from 7-10 patients a day earlier — marking almost a 50 per cent increase,” Dr. Kuldeep Kumar Grover, Head of Critical care and Pulmonology, C.K. Birla Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS.

Dr. Vivek Nangia, Principal Director & Head Pulmonology, Max Hospital, Saket, added he is also seeing a “dramatic increase” in the number of patients visiting the OPD and the emergency room.

“The majority of patients that we treat nowadays present with cough, cold, sore throat, feeling of a foreign body in the throat, watering eyes, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. And in the majority of cases, we must administer medications such as nasal decongestants and anti-allergy medications,” he said.

While Delhi’s air quality struggles every year due to stubble burning, there is a notable decrease in these incidents, with only 1,794 farm fires in Haryana and 714 in Punjab recorded till October 23. In addition, increasing temperatures in Delhi and decrease in the speed of the wind may result in an increase in pollution, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said on Monday.

“The particulate matter is staying near the ground,” he added.

Dr. Grover said patients who already had respiratory issues are now getting diagnosed with pneumonia and are being hospitalised. People are also getting newly “affected with upper respiratory issues and if not treated well in time they can also get affected with lower respiratory issues”, he said.

Dr. Arun Chowdary Kotaru, Consultant, Respiratory & Sleep Medicine at Artemis Hospital, Gurugram, told IANS the effect of air pollution is profound in the lungs and heart. “We are also seeing one member of every family is suffering from a cough, sore throat and fever. Supportive therapy and a good diet with physical activity is a must for all the patients,” he suggested.

The health experts also advised quitting smoking and staying away from secondhand smoke, avoiding dust and pollution as much as possible. They recommended people above 60 years of age or below 15 years to take flu and pneumonia vaccines.


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