When you are busy celebrating Diwali, doctors around the city are putting in extra hours to treat patients who come in with burns, respiratory problems, alcohol intoxication and other problems that can be associated with the festival.
“Apart from that we also receive several cases of alcohol intoxication and other alcohol-related problems. In fact, on the day of Diwali, when the out-patient department does not function, at least 5 to 10 people come to the emergency department for some or the other problem of the digestive system,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant of internal medicine at Indraprastha Apollo hospital.
Alcohol intoxication, vomiting and gastritis related to alcohol consumption and people with hangover are common in the clinics before and after Diwali. “But, on the day of Diwali, there is a puja so people avoid drinks,” said Dr Chatterjee.
“There is a 20%-30% increase in number of people coming in with problems related to alcohol consumption during and around the Diwali time. This could be due to the several card parties that are organised across the city,” said Dr Rommel Tickoo, senior consultant of internal medicine at Max super-speciality hospital, Saket.
There are people who do other drugs as well, but they do not usually come to hospitals because it would result in a medico-legal case. “The drug problem is worse during Holi because of bhang. On Diwali, people usually stick to alcohol. But, we do receive one or two overdose cases and they come only when the condition is severe,” he said.
When it comes to burns, hospitals receive the maximum proportion of the cases that they treat throughout the year on Diwali night or a few days after it.
“Our hospital receives burn cases that have been referred from other centres two to three days after Diwali. On the day of Diwali, most of the burn patients go to government hospitals like South Delhi’s Safdarjung and Central Delhi’s Lok Nayak, mainly because of the cost of treatment and extended stay,” he said.
“Most of the burns are on the hands or lower body. The burns vary between 20%-80%, with firecrackers bursting in hands causing around 20% burns and saris catching fire from diyas causing the severe burns,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee.
Apart from lighting crackers with care, the doctor also advised people to avoid wearing loose-fitting synthetic clothes during the celebration.
Doctors also see nearly 30% rise in the number of patients who reach hospitals with respiratory symptoms. “Mostly people who have chronic respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis are the ones whose symptoms aggravate. But, the PM2.5 level, which should ideally be less than 60, goes up to 250-450 during Diwali and it does not settle down easily. Hence, even people with no history end up having to go to hospitals,” said Dr Srikant Sharma, senior consulting physician at Moolchand hospital.
“In and around Diwali, we get 10-15 patients at our hospital who require admission because of severe respiratory distress, respiratory failure and chest infection,” said Dr Chatterjee.
Firecrackers aside, the sweets routinely exchanged during the festival also drive people to hospitals. “After Diwali, there is a 30-40% increase in the number of patients who come in with uncontrolled sugar levels and when you ask them they would say that it was festival time so they had a couple of sweets,” said Dr Tickoo.
The doctor advised diabetics to restrict their intake of sweets to one in the week.