The swathes of majestic deodars and cedars are what make Shimla an attractive town, the green lungs supplying pure oxygen to its residents. But come autumn and the trees cause suffering to many, especially those prone to allergies and breathing problems.
It’s because at this time of the year these trees start shedding pollen, pale yellow powdery particles flying around in the air.
Every morning the town wakes up to itchy eyes, breathlessness, blocked nostrils, sore throat and a burning sensation in the chest. The yellow pollen dust can be seen in thick layers deposited on sliding green roofs and on top of vehicles.
“The problem is not new to the natives or tourists visiting the town around this time of the year, during Diwali or Dussehra holidays. But the intensity this time is very high due to the dry spell. There have been no rains after the first week of September and there is no chance of it for another week,” says Dr Manmohan Singh, Director, Meteorological Centre, Shimla.
Vehicles on Forest road with pale yellow pollen dust deposited on roof. Photo credits: Ashwani Sharma
Though it is a yearly occurrence, this year Covid fears have made many rush to the doctors for treatment. “Only those who are allergic to the dust and pollen get problems like asthma, itching, common cold, cough and breathlessness. Once the rains come the pollen will settle down and the environment will become clean again", says former Chief Conservator of Forest V.P. Mohan.
Shimla’s Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) hospital gets 30 to 35 patients every day with complaints of asthma, allergies and other problems related to skin and respiratory tract.
“This is when many patients are not visiting hospitals due to Covid fears. But the pandemic also has a positive side--the use of masks reduces pollen-induced allergies and health risks,” says Dr R.S Minhas, professor of ENT at IGMC. Doctors advise those with asthma or allergic conditions to stay indoors these few weeks.
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