Gurugram: Children gasp for breath as pollution spikesUpdated: Oct 29, 2019, 20:30 IST
Gurugram Residents and hospitals have started reporting a spike in respiratory illnesses, with many, especially children, complaining of breathlessness and other bronchial issues.
On the night of October 27, one-year-old Yug Kathuria became breathless. He started coughing and gasping uncontrollably, and was rushed to a private hospital in Gurugram. The doctor said he had a decreased oxygen saturation level and that air pollution could be a primary explanation. A nebulizer was used to facilitate the inhalation of medicine. The child was in the paediatric intensive care unit of the hospital for the next two days and needed oxygen-based nebulization every six hours, his parents said.
The next day, a 14-year-old girl, an asthmatic patient, had to be hospitalised due to shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. She underwent six rounds of nebulization that day, according to her family members.
The two cases are not isolated. Residents have reported many cases of respiratory distress induced by the sudden rise in pollution levels since Diwali. The air quality of Gurugram worsened from ‘poor to ‘very poor’, on the air quality index, with a reading of 368, as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
“In the last 10-odd days, there has been a rise in the number of people, especially children, coming in with aggravated symptoms of respiratory diseases. However, the last two to three days, this number has doubled. The number of children needing nebulizers has increased dramatically,” said Dr Piyush Goel, a pulmonologist at a city hospital that reported at least five cases of respiratory distress in children over the last two days.
However, doctors also said that even among children who do not end up in the emergency ward, there has been a sharp rise in incidents of respiratory diseases.
Doctors said that the most common symptoms exhibited by children are prolonged nasal discharge, inflammation of the lungs and redness of eyes. In children with asthma, the lungs are inflamed and hypersensitive. Air pollution further damages their airways and increases their dependence on medication for day-to-day functioning, said experts.
“Children are more vulnerable to respiratory diseases as they have narrower airways than adults. We’re expecting a large number of cases to surface in the coming few weeks, as the symptoms also grow eventually,” said Dr Himanshu Garg, a pulmonologist.
Experts said that residents should limit their activities outside, especially in the morning and evening hours. When going out during the day, wearing a mask is a must, they said. Doctors added that worsening symptoms of respiratory illnesses should be taken seriously and be looked at by an expert.