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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

With rise in air pollution after Diwali, Bengaluru hospitals see more lung ailments

In the state-run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, there was a 15 per cent rise in the number of registrations in the outpatient department on Monday.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
Updated: November 9, 2021 7:01:59 am
DiwaliMany senior citizens said that banned crackers were sold and burst during Diwali this year. (Representative image)

With the air quality worsening after Diwali, most hospitals in Bengaluru have seen an increase in the number of patients suffering from lung ailments.

Data from the Continuous Ambient Quality Monitoring Stations at Bengaluru city has revealed that Air Quality Index (AQI) levels during Diwali increased by 23 per cent compared to the same time last year.

In the state-run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD), there was a 15 per cent rise in the number of registrations in the outpatients department (OPD) on Monday. RGICD Director Dr C Nagaraj told The Indian Express, “Over 200 OPD cases were registered on Monday. This is over 15 per cent more than the usual daily number of consultations. The number has been increasing since Friday, the day after Diwali. We expect this to go up further in the coming week.”

He added that patients with pre-existing lung conditions, including asthma, lung fibrosis, interstitial lung disease (ILD) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), should now exercise caution and stay indoors. “Avoiding exposure to the toxic air is the best step one can take. This would help bring down chances of getting any viral infection as well,” he said.

Dr Nagaraj further said that patients suffering from lung problems are using nebulisers more frequently at home or in clinics during the last few days.

In Aster RV Hospital in JP Nagar, the number of patients suffering from lung disorders has gone up by nearly 30 per cent.

Dr Pavan Yadav, who is the hospital’s lead consultant for interventional pulmonology, sleep medicine and lung transplantation, said what is adding to the problem is the fact that respiratory viral infections are more common during winter.

“We should avoid going out too much and wear masks at all times. Patients should have access to their inhalers and use medications on time as prescribed by the doctor. They should visit the hospital in case there is any new problem or old symptoms worsen,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Hirenappa B Udnur, consultant pulmonologist at Manipal Hospital Hebbal, said that there has been an eight per cent increase in the number of asthma and COPD cases since the festive weekend. He added while inhalers can help in case of COPD cases, medications, including a few steroids, and oxygen can be required for those diagnosed with ILD.

“We further advise breathing exercises and ask patients to take care of their lung health because these problems can worsen. In that case, there can be the problem of deoxygenation and patients have to be taken to the ICU,” he said.

Doctors also said that people should get fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and also take the pneumococcal vaccine if prescribed.

Dr Jagadish Hiremath, chairman at Aasra Hospitals, said more patients now are suffering from wheezing and coughing, with conditions being particularly difficult for those suffering from pre-existing lung conditions. “The polluted air is a huge risk to people who are recovering from Covid-related complications. Elderly patients and those suffering from comorbidities are at particular risk,” he said.

Earlier last month, the Karnataka government had allowed the sale of green crackers, and banned fireworks containing barium salts and other harmful chemicals. However, many senior citizens said that banned crackers were sold and burst during Diwali this year.

“People in our neighbourhood kept bursting crackers that emit toxic smoke. This went on throughout the night at times. The ban on harmful crackers seems to be only on paper. All kinds of fireworks were burst and now even youngsters like me are finding it difficult to breath in this toxic air,” said Nithin M, a resident of BTM Layout in the city.

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