Mumbai: The onset of cooler months combined with deteriorating air quality has led to a rise in cases of chronic respiratory illnesses. The list of related ailments include asthma and coronary obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), both directly associated with exposure to polluted and toxic air.
Considering the surge in numbers, doctors have urged citizens to visit the nearest hospital or clinic on experiencing related symptoms. They said the number of cases of influenza and other respiratory viruses, such as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV; a greater cause for concern than Covid), are also on the rise.
A senior physician from a civic-run hospital said, “In the past one week, outpatient departments of both civic and private-run hospitals have witnessed a two to three-fold rise in patients with recurrent cold and cough. Many of them are taking nearly two weeks to recover. Most of them have a history of bronchial asthma, lung complications or COPD.”
According to a study, at the global level, 33.1million episodes of acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRTI) occurred in children less than five years in 2015. Indian studies published from 1991 to 2022 reported variable prevalence of RSV in children with pneumonia, ranging from 14% to 40% and an incidence of RSV in 53 for every 1,000 children per year (5.3%).
Doctors have listed precautionary measures like remaining indoors as much as possible, using air purifiers, steam inhalation once or twice a day and moving outdoors only when necessary, using a face mask.
Pulmonary consultant at Hinduja Hospital in Khar, Dr Radhika Banka cited drastic change in weather and ambient temperatures, deterioration of air quality and increasingly unhealthy lifestyle causing a decrease in natural immunity as the main reasons behind such symptoms this season.
“Of these, particularly poor air quality is playing a major role. Increased construction activity across the city following lifting of Covid restrictions and fossil fuel combustion are both contributing significantly to indoor and outdoor air pollution,” she said.
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