Mumbai: The sudden fluctuation in temperatures and air quality for the past week has led to an increase in complaints of respiratory illnesses and viral infections. “Excessive air pollution is associated with respiratory diseases like bronchitis and asthma. In such weather conditions, cases of bronchitis are likely to increase in the city, primarily due to temperature fluctuations,” said a doctor from BYL Nair Hospital.
The most common ailments are cold, cough, viral fever and now doctors say, there is a greater likelihood of an increase in respiratory diseases due to this unpredictable weather. The weather bureau has clarified that winter is yet to set in and that the dryness in the air has is because of windy conditions. Health experts have cautioned people against going out in the early morning as the toxic levels in the air are high at this time.
Dr Wiqar Shaikh, head of the department of internal medicine at the state-run JJ Hospital, said, air pollutants are causing breathing disorders. “Every day, I examine at least 200-350 patients who are suffering breathing disorders on account of the haze. Patients with asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) are finding it difficult to breathe. Poor air quality is causing a rise in these cases,” said Dr Shaikh.
A doctor from the King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital said, “City hospitals have seen a 30 per cent rise in patients seeking treatment for respiratory and cardiac issues.”
General physicians said the immediate effects are cough, throat infections and pneumonia and in the long term, the results could be disastrous as one could also develop severe lung cancer. “Patients have started coming to the outpatient department (OPD) with complaints of breathlessness, coughing, sneezing, tightness in the chest, allergy and asthma complications. More than 30-40 patients come in daily for respiratory ailments,” said Dr Pratit Samdani, general physician, Jaslok Hospital.
The increase in allergens, along with smog and pollutants, can predispose children to viral and bacterial infections and cause breathing difficulties. “An alarming increase in air pollution attacks the respiratory system. Moreover, higher levels of carbon monoxide directly hit the cardiovascular system and the entire respiratory tract, particularly among children,” said a doctor from Nair hospital.
Dr Om Shrivastav, infectious diseases expert, Jaslok hospital said, “If patients show any symptoms of viral fever or respiratory-related problems, they should immediately seek treatment in a hospital instead of resorting to self-medication.”