Severe pollution in Delhi NCR has not only affected adults, but also children and the elderly. Take for instance, a young mother Kavita Kataria’s one-year-old daughter Myrah who suffered severe symptoms like sneezing, cough, watery eyes and phlegm after being exposed to the toxic air for only a few hours. The 32-year-old shared a Facebook post where she recalled her ordeal that began when her return flight to Ahmedabad got delayed.
On Tuesday morning, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded pollution levels in Delhi at 397 which is in the “very poor” category. Data from the Anand Vihar observatory at 8 am showed the PM 2.5 level at 474 while PM 10 was at 428. The quality, however, slightly improved since Monday due to the picking of wind speeds.
She goes on to mention how children should be protected even more considering the grave impact even a few hours of exposure can have. Kataria mentioned that they shouldn’t be taken out for walks or even play.
While speaking to indianexpress.com, she shared, “The doctor has advised us to follow the medicine course for seven days and a follow-up check-up after five days. We have to offer her light foods like khichdi, dalia etc, and keep her hyderated. Even though Ahmedabad’s condition is not as bad as Delhi, he has asked us to keep her inside (the home) till she gets better.”
The child is currently on antibiotics and medicine for fever, cold and cough. She has also been prescribed drops to clear the infection for eyes and nose.
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution has ‘a vast and terrible impact on child health and survival’. ‘Globally, 93 per cent of all children live in environments with air pollution levels above the WHO guidelines. More than one in every four deaths of children under five years is directly or indirectly related to environmental risks. Both ambient air pollution and household air pollution (HAP) contribute to respiratory tract infections that resulted in 5,43,000 deaths in children under five years in 2016’.
Dr Manoj Kumar Goel, pulmonology, pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute Gurugram pointed out how children become more vulnerable to the toxic air. “Children are especially vulnerable because their lungs are still in the development stage. Additionally, children are a lot more active than adults. The more active one is, the more they inhale, the more exposed they are to the pollutant particles,” he told indianexpress.com.
How can children be protected?
*Remain indoors as much as possible.
*Make sure your children wash their hands frequently to avoid infection.
*Avoid exercising outdoors.
*When indoors, parents can practice regular deep breathing exercises.
*If asthmatic, continue taking preventive and controller inhalers.
*Get vaccinated for flu.
*Consult a doctor if you are suffering from any respiratory distress symptoms
Dr Goel recommends that children should also wear masks. “Make sure they are playing only indoor sports. They should be well-hydrated, this will allow the toxins to be flushed from their body. They need to be taken to the hospital in case of any respiratory distress, wheezing, coughing. Lastly for children with asthma, bronchitis – in addition to the medication, it is essential that they take steam every night to clear out to the air ways,” he said.