‘Very poor’ air triggering prolonged allergic cough in city
“When the air quality gets beyond a certain point, even the healthiest lungs react strongly,” said Dr Lancelot Pinto, consultant pulmonologist and epidemiologist at PD Hinduja Hospital, Mahim.
Mumbai: Due to the ‘very poor’ air hovering over the city for the last six weeks, respiratory medicine experts said, they are seeing an unexpected rise of healthy people with no underline respiratory illness suffering from prolonged coughing symptoms lasting for more than a month.
“When the air quality gets beyond a certain point, even the healthiest lungs react strongly. We are seeing a lot of people presenting with asthma-like symptoms for the first time in their life,” said Dr Lancelot Pinto, consultant pulmonologist and epidemiologist at PD Hinduja Hospital, Mahim.
50% of his outdoor patients are having non-infective respiratory problems, he said, adding “Most of the prolonged coughs do not seem to be viral. They are allergic/irritant coughs. Many people started coughing in mid-December and it is still going on.”
While most of the people with coughing triggered by possible air pollution are getting treated on an OPD basis, patients with underline respiratory diseases are getting affected severely.
Although the air quality in the city during winters is known to be bad, however, this year it has been unusually worse, Dr Pinto said, adding, “Some of them require to be hospitalised as they have a drop in oxygen levels too.”
About 40% of their OPD patients have had similar symptoms including a fever lasting 5-7 days, a sore throat, wheezing, and a persistent dry cough lasting 12-14 days, Dr Hemalata Arora, internal medicine expert, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vile Parle, said.
“Across all age groups, we are observing a new viral infection, intensified by the poor air quality and smog,” she added. “Every day, we see 25 to 30 such patients and all of them usually test negative for Covid-19. Since the exact nature of this infection is unknown, we are treating the patients symptomatically, with anti-allergic medication, bronchodilators and cough syrup to soothe their throats.”
When outside, doctors said to wear a good-quality mask and avoid venturing out or going to congested places when the air quality is poor.
“The infection will subside as the temperature increases and air quality improves. We recommend wearing masks and avoiding polluted areas until then. Use home remedies such as steam inhalation to humidify the airway to relieve the symptoms instead of opting for OTC medication,” added Dr Arora.
Dr Rajesh Sharma, respiratory medicine expert practising in South Mumbai hospitals said that many have coughs despite good medication. He added that people who are extremely prone to air pollution-triggered infections should avoid venturing out, especially in the morning.
“One should also avoid outdoor exercise during this time when the air quality is poor,” he said.