Mumbai: Exposure to ‘very poor’ quality air across the city has taken toll on asthma patients and people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to respiratory medicine experts.
The heavily polluted air has also led to a spike in cases of throat infection and persistent dry cough, they said, adding that there has been a 20-25 per cent rise in the number of people who need immediate medical attention and oxygen support. This could have a long-lasting impact on human health, the experts said.
The poor air quality has prompted a state task force to work on guidelines for reducing air pollution. “We have started assessing patients with respiratory illnesses related to pollution. This can provide valuable insights into the health impacts and help develop strategies for prevention and intervention. It is crucial to understand the specific effects of pollution on respiratory health to implement effective measures for public well-being,” said a senior doctor who is a member of the state task force.
This is the first time that the air quality of Mumbai is very poor and is having a severe impact on health, said Dr Madhukar Gaikwad, of the medicine department at JJ Hospital. Asthma patients are facing great difficulty because of the poor air quality and this has also led to an increase in hospital admissions, he said.
20-25% Patients Have Acute Respiratory Tract Ailments, Says Dr Madhukar Gaikwad, JJ Hospital
“The visits to the outpatient department for breathing difficulty and dry cough have doubled in the past couple of weeks. We are also seeing a 5 per cent increase in hospitalisation among people with asthma and COPD,” he said. As much as 25-30 per cent patients in the ICU have acute respiratory tract ailments, with several needing non-invasive or invasive ventilation.
“Post the Omicron wave, Covid cases have been almost negligible. However, there has been a surge in influenza A (H3N2) cases, followed by swine flu (H1N1), respiratory syncytial virus, and adenovirus infections, apart from community-acquired bacterial pneumonia,” said the doctor.
“Also, dry cough, which usually lasted for two to three days in winter, is now lasting for more than a month and this is being attributed to postviral bronchiolitis,” the doctor said. Children and those in the 65-plus age group are suffering more.
Experts On Effects Of Pollution On Respiratory System
Experts said that air pollution, especially particulate matter such as carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, can affect cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory systems and have severe health impacts. Exposure to these pollutants is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
“Air pollution's primary impact on the lungs can have cascading effects on the cardiovascular system. The link between air pollution and cardiovascular diseases, such as hypoxia, elevated blood pressure, exacerbation of myocardial ischemia, and an increased risk of myocardial infarction, underscores the importance of addressing air quality for overall heart health,” said an expert.