With Diwali around the corner, experts feel that pollution may play a contributing role in the exacerbation of pre-existing lung issues and increase the risk of respiratory tract infections that could even be fatal.
Patients with breathing problems often have hypersensitive respiratory tracts and weak lungs. Additionally, their oxygen levels remain low. Consequently, they are at a higher risk of contracting infections from viruses and bacteria during winters, with air pollution acting as a catalyst.
Former head of the respiratory medicine department at KGMU, Prof Rajendra Prasad, said: “In common lung conditions like COPD, bronchitis and asthma, damaged air sacs, collapsed tubes, and narrowed airways along with excessive mucus production cause breathlessness. This hinders the transmission of gases and makes these patients more vulnerable to infections.”
Such patients along with those experienced severe Covid-19 infections with extensive blood clotting in the lung arteries and veins, in addition to lung fibrosis, should avoid going out until the sun is up and in the late evening.
Dr Ajay Kumar from Apollo Hospital said: “These patients often suffer from hypoxemia due to their low lung capacity. Ultrafine pollutants (PM 2.5 microns) can enter the lungs during inhalation and cause further damage. They need to take extra precautions, as their oxygen levels may drop faster than those of normal patients if they become infected.”
Manodeep Sen of the microbiology department RMLIMS said air pollutants like PM 2.5 microns can combine with tiny water droplets to form an aerosol that can serve as a host for viruses and bacterial infections.
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