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Poor air or Covid? Rise in respiratory cases worry doctors in Delhi

Cases of respiratory illness, asthma, breathlessness increase as air pollution starts to go up. Patients with a history of asthma and respiratory tract infection need to stay extra cautious, medical experts say.

Written by Astha Saxena | New Delhi | October 25, 2020 2:43:27 am
AQI to remain very poor till month end in DelhiThere were no days with 'Poor', 'Very Poor' and 'Severe' AQI during this period in 2020 as against 23 in 2019. (File photo)

The deteriorating air quality over the last few days has led to a sudden increase in the number of patients presenting with respiratory troubles.

For almost 10 days now, city doctors have been observing a rise in the number of patients complaining of sore throat, breathlessness and cough. Due to overlapping symptoms with Covid-19, all these patients are tested for the viral infection as well.

Cases of respiratory illness, asthma, breathlessness increase as air pollution starts to go up. Patients with a history of asthma and respiratory tract infection need to stay extra cautious, medical experts say.

“Almost 30% of patients who come to us with these complaints are tested and turn out to be positive for Covid-19. Normal bronchitis, which we used to see as an impact of dust and smog, might be Covid-19 this time. In fact, over the last few months, so many more symptoms have been added to the list but respiratory symptoms are still significant. In a pandemic situation, we can’t avoid thinking of the virus,” said Dr S Chatterjee, senior consultant, department of internal medicine at Indraprastha Apollo hospitals.

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing trouble, fatigue, loss of smell/taste, sore throat, etc.

Dr SP Byotra, chairman, department of internal medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said “Overlapping symptoms in both diseases increase the magnitude of the problem. In Covid-19, there is a drop in oxygen saturation levels, which is also observed in patients with respiratory illnesses. Patients who are getting admitted these days are having more trouble. Even Covid-19 patients are coming with a severe drop in oxygen levels and staggered recovery rate. Those who have recovered are returning with breathlessness. This is a complex problem. Any patient coming with respiratory issues to the OPD is being tested for Covid-19.”

At the city’s first post Covid-clinic in Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, those who have recovered from Covid are also facing issues. “We are advising them decongestants, bronchodilators so as to make breathing easier by relaxing the muscles in the lungs and widening the airways (bronchi). Breathing issues worsen during this time of the year; this time, it is a bigger issue for those recovering,” said Dr Ajeet Jain, nodal officer of the hospital’s post-Covid clinic.

 

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