Cases of respiratory issues, eye irritation continue to rise in Delhi hospitals

Cases of respiratory issues, eye irritation continue to rise in Delhi hospitals

New Delhi, Nov 14 (PTI) Though Delhi recorded a brief improvement in air quality last week, city hospitals continue to report a rise in the number of patients visiting hospitals for respiratory issues, prolonged coughing, throat infections and eye irritation.

The national capital experienced 'very poor' to 'severe' air quality for two weeks starting October 28 with a suffocating haze lingering over the city during the period.

Intermittent rain led to a rapid improvement in Delhi's air quality on Friday by over 150 points. However, the respite was short-lived as people flouted the ban on firecrackers on Diwali on Sunday, leading to a jump in pollution levels.

Doctors at many government-run and private hospitals said the rise in cases of prolonged coughing, throat infection, eye irritation, nasal discharge and asthma exacerbation continues. Out-patient department (OPD) footfalls may have gone down 'very slightly' as people generally avoid going to hospitals during the festive season.

'We barely witnessed two days of better AQI but it deteriorated again after Diwali, and the number of patients coming to our OPDs remains unchanged.

'Perhaps, there was a very small relief period and that too because it coincided with the festivities. Otherwise, the situation remains the same,' said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, Internal Medicine at Apollo Hospital in Delhi.

Dr Richa Sareen, a Pulmonology consultant at Fortis Hospital also said there was 'hardly a relief period' for OPDs.

'The three days when the AQI was relatively better coincided with three days of festivities and people generally avoid going to hospitals during the festive season,' she said.

Cases of prolonged coughing, eye irritation, throat infection and respiratory issues are being reported at Fortis Hospital, she said.

She asked people to take all precautions like wearing a mask when stepping out and cautioned them against venturing out early morning for a walk or exercise.

According to IQAir, a Swiss company that specialises in air quality monitoring, Delhi was the most polluted city in the world on Monday, the day after Diwali, followed by Lahore and Karachi in Pakistan.

Dr Sumit Ray, medical director and critical care head at Holy Family Hospital, said there has been no decline in the number of patients coming to the OPD with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and bronchitis.

For such cases to decline, at least a 10-day improvement in air quality is needed, he said.

'The worsening air quality triggers infections quickly but the results of the improvement take time to show,' Ray said.

Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of the Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital, said, 'We did not see any decline in cases of people coming with issues of breathlessness and asthma when there was an improvement in air quality. In fact, after Diwali, there has been a 5 per cent rise in such cases coming to our OPDs. The majority of patients coming to the hospital are the elderly.' Air pollution in Delhi neared the 'severe' category again amid unfavourable meteorological conditions on Tuesday and any relief is unlikely soon.

The capital's 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI), recorded at 4 pm every day, stood at 397, worsening from 358 on Monday and 218 on Sunday.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', 401 and 450 'severe' and above 450 'severe plus'. PTI KND/SLB DIV DIV

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