With Bad Air Persisting, Doctors Advise Further Precautions

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New Delhi: Dr KK Pandey, Senior Chest and Allergy Specialist (Pulmonologist) at Yashoda Super Speciality Hospital, Kaushambi, Ghaziabad speaking about the Bad Air Pollution in Delhi NCR has said that even healthy people can experience health impacts from polluted air including respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities.

Dr Pandey said that the current situation of bad air was due to Ground-level Ozone which is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) react with the Sun's ultraviolet rays. The primary source of VOCs and NOx was mobile sources, including cars, trucks, buses, construction equipment and agricultural equipment.

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VOCs and NOx are strong irritant that can cause constriction of the airways, forcing the respiratory system to work harder in order to provide oxygen. It can also cause other health problems including: Aggravated respiratory disease such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, lung damage, even after symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain, dry throat, headache or nausea, reduced resistance to infections, increased fatigue, weakened athletic performance.

The actual risk of adverse effects depends on your current health status, the pollutant type and concentration, and the length of your exposure to the polluted air. Dr Pandey further said that high air pollution levels can cause immediate health problems including: increased heart and lung problems specially in the patients who are already suffering from heart and lung ailments, bad air adds stress to heart and lungs, which must work harder to supply the body with oxygen.

Long-term exposure to polluted air, specially to the people who are mostly in open places can have permanent health effects such as: lungs getting effected at an early stage, loss of lung capacity and decreased lung function, development of diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possibly cancer, shortened life span.

Dr Pandey added that those most susceptible to severe health problems from air pollution are: individuals with heart disease, coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure, individuals with lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pregnant women, outdoor workers, older adults and the elderly, children under age 14, athletes who exercise vigorously outdoors.

People in these groups may experience health impacts at lower air pollution exposure levels, or their health effects may be of greater intensity.

Dr Pandey told that one can protect himself from air pollution by very easy preventive steps like wearing a N95 grade mask, which fits snugly around the mouth and nose, so that all air passes through the mask. A basic surgical mask actually offers no protection against air-pollutants and microbes. One should avoid indoor pollution by keeping the house clean, ventilated, planting potted plants. One should quit indoor smoking, which is a big cause of indoor air pollution.

Dr Pandey advised that if one feel any irritation in throat or eyes one should immediately take advice of a doctor rather than implying own ways. Dr Pandey said patients having asthma should follow precautions like “Asthma patients should take regular medication as advised by their treating doctor without missing the doses.

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