The dust storms may have cooled down the climes, bringing respite from the torrid heat, but they are also taking a toll on children, elderly and those prone to respiratory tract infections.
Hospitals and clinics in the city have reported a sudden rise in cases of wheezing, severe cough, chest congestion, shortness of breath, fever, etc. — all symptoms of respiratory tract infections — affecting mainly children and the elderly.
"The irritants in the air trigger various respiratory tract infections that we call naso-bronchial infections. The number of such infections rise in such weather. I examine about 20 such people daily in my OPD," said a senior doctor with the department of medicine at AIIMS.
Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.
"Dust particles create obstruction in the airway and infect lungs in children. However, the extent of infection varies from case to case," said Dr Krishan Chugh, paediatric pulmonologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
He said the past two weeks have seen a 100 per cent rise in the number of cases because of the dusty weather.
As a precautionary measure, doctors advise people to avoid smoke and going to areas with high dust content, avoid inhaling fragrant sprays or mosquito/insect repellents.
Dust allergies are usually self-limiting and get better soon after the weather clears; but in severe cases doctors prescribe anti-allergic drugs.
The risk of water-borne diseases also becomes high in such weather, with the heat prompting a higher intake of fluids. Diseases such as stomach flu, gastroenteritis, jaundice, typhoid, etc are common during summer.
"One should avoid eating and drinking at the road-side eateries. As far as possible, eat well-cooked food and drink bottled water and only fresh fruit juices extracted at home. Avoid using ice in drinks. These precautions will minimise the risk of contracting stomach infection," said Dr MP Sharma, head of department of gastroenterology, Rockland Hospital.
Eating light food such as khichdi in small quantity, with lots of fluids such as butter milk, lime water, coconut water, etc. helps in controlling the symptoms. In some cases, anti-biotic is also given to treat the infection.
This weather is equally harmful for the eyes, be it dusty winds or scorching sun; eyes are sensitive and are prone to infection. Conjunctivitis and burning sensation in the eyes are caused because of dust particles and prolonged exposure to sun. Wearing wide-rimmed sunglasses while going out is the best way to protect eyes.