With the approach of winters, coupled with the rising pollution levels, the Capital city is facing health hazards with some even experiencing irritation in eyes and breathing problems. The Air Quality Index (AQI) around Mandir Marg recorded PM 10 levels at 707 and PM 2.5 at 663, while PM 10 levels were 681 and 676 around Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium respectively.
It has been noticed that there has been a rise in the cases of respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and (COPD) Chronic Obstruction Airway Disease. There has been a general rise in patients of asthma as in winters or when the air becomes thick and hence they have difficulty in breathing. This year, due to pollution, there is a rise in upper respiratory tract infections such as common cough and cold.
Spare the air
Dr R.K. Mani, chairman critical care and pulmonology, Nayati Healthcare said: “The air quality and its impact is alarming. Most of the cases in a chest clinic are patients with allergies, sinusitis, asthma or COPD. In this season there is marked deterioration of patients' symptoms and ability to breathe. Cough, cold, wheezing and breathing problems are increasing in frequency by leaps and bounds.”
The adverse health effects of air pollution have long been recognised. However, there is less awareness that the majority of the morbidity and mortality caused by air pollution is due to its effects on the cardiovascular system.
Evidence from epidemiological studies has demonstrated a strong association between air pollution and cardiovascular diseases including stroke. Dr Manreet Kahlon, COO IVH Senior Care said, “Respiratory conditions are often linked to air pollution. Using N95 masks while outdoors and using air purifiers at home is the solution for people living in cities with moderate to high pollution. Indoor plants that reduce the pollution also come handy to breathe fresh air indoors.”
High air pollution levels can cause immediate health problems including aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illness, added stress to heart and lungs, which must work harder to supply the body with oxygen and damaged cells in the respiratory system.
Long-term exposure to polluted air can have permanent health effects such as accelerated aging of the lungs, loss of lung capacity and decreased functioning of the lungs. Dr Rahul Bahot, Consultant Chest Physician at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai said, “With this kind of air pollution, masks are also not very effective. It is advisable to stay indoors and cut down on private vehicle usage as much as possible. It is better to use the metro as air condition in the metros has the facility to purify air. With the smog there is a huge chance of the development of diseases such as asthma, bronchitis.”
Dr. Gaurav Thukral, specialist in internal medicine said, “Air pollution and noise pollution pose a serious health risk for the elderly. Aging decreases the overall efficiency of the body. The air and noise pollution levels that can be tolerable to a young person can be hazardous to the elderly. Taking the current pollution levels into consideration, even contributing minimally to the levels is a sin and people have also started realizing this fact. However, people are still unaware about the ill-effects of long-term exposure to noise pollution, which are hypertension, high-stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, and sleep disturbances.”
What you can do
1. Try to keep yourself covered.
2. Get a face-mask.
3. Make your home greener.
4. Try to restrict your exposure to fumes of firecrackers.
5. Boost immunity by drinking plenty of water or increase the intake of fluids.
6. Avoid fatty foods. Besides, certain food items like apples, apricots, broccoli, walnuts and beans contain a good amount of anti-oxidants and are good for lung health and immunity.