10% of recovered Covid-19 patients report secondary infections as air quality worsensUpdated: Oct 20, 2020, 22:48 IST
A 48-year old resident of Manesar, who recovered from Covid-19 in August after undergoing treatment in a hospital, recently developed symptoms like breathlessness, which made him visit the Medeor Hospital on Tuesday. He was prescribed medicines by the doctors, who told him that the choking sensation has been due to an increased exposure to fine particulate matter due to the poor air quality in Gurugram.
According to doctors, quite a few people who have recovered from Covid-19 are being negatively impacted due to poor air quality in the city that is aggravating chest infection. “Nearly 5-10% of recovered Covid-19 patients are visiting OPDs, reporting shortness of breath and secondary infection over the coronavirus pneumonia,” said Sanjay Gupta, senior consultant and head of department, internal medicine, Medeor Hospital — a dedicated Covid-19 hospital for tertiary care in Manesar.
“The secondary infection is mostly allergic bronchitis or bacterial infection. This is due to the high level of particulate matter, dust in the air, and the change in temperature. These are particularly impacting patients, who have recovered from Covid-19,” said Gupta, who asked his 48-year-old patient to avoid going out until necessary.
Since last week, the air quality in Gurugram has entered the ‘poor’ category with high levels of PM2.5 and PM10 in the air. Since they are concentrated in the atmosphere at a level where it is easily breathable, doctors suggest those with compromised lungs due to Covid-19 are vulnerable to the pollution. In the district at least, 25,872 people have been tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Of these 2,370 are active, 193 have succumbed to the illness, while 23,309 have recovered till now.
“Overall patients complaining of chest infection have almost increased by over 40% with nearly 5% of them being recovered Covid-19 patient,” said Manoj Goel, director, pulmonology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute.
“During winters, there is usually an uptick in patients with severe asthma, bronchitis and chest infection. Seasonal variations and pollutants in the air increase the severity of the infection. Exposure to particulate matter for long time and the presence of bacterial and fungal infection leads to a choking sensation in patients. This is also seen in the recovered patients of coronavirus disease,” said Goel.
“It is being seen in the patients who had moderate or severe symptoms of Covid-19 and were admitted to hospitals. Covid-19 primarily impacts the lungs, the condition of which can be worsened by high pollution levels. Even Covid-19 patients who have recovered six months back are coming with secondary chest infections,” said Goel, who said that the increased footfall is also due to the unlock measures, which are enabling people to visit hospitals.
According to doctors, recovered patients, who are reporting of symptoms like breathlessness, heavy cough, sore throat and fever should visit a doctor for consultation.
Other hospitals like Paras Hospital and Columbia Asia Hospital are also witnessing a spike in the footfall of patients with lung infections. Dr Arunesh Kumar, senior consultant and head respiratory medicine/pulmonology, Paras Hospital said, “Most of the chronic respiratory diseases like asthma , chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) tend to get worse with lowering temperature and rise in pollution. We are seeing a rise in COPD and asthma patients by up to 15 % over the last 10 days. Rise of PM2.5 level is clearly associated with lung health. This year, we are dealing with both Covid-19 and pollution-related illnesses”
Doctors also said there is also a tendency for an underlying allergy to flare up in this season. Dr Nevin Kishore, head of bronchology and senior consultant, respiratory medicine, Max Hospital, Gurugram, said these patients face increased sneezing and coughing during at night.