Health Care

Respiratory distress up, many land in ICU

Respiratory distress up, many land in ICU (Photo credit: AFP)
Respiratory distress up, many land in ICU (Photo credit: AFP)
With Delhi witnessing the worst air pollution of the season, hospital emergencies have witnessed a sudden increase in patients suffering from respiratory distress in the past few days. Many of them have even landed in the ICU.

“We have eight ICU beds. All of them are occupied and the OPDs are also flooded with patients with breathing difficulty or those suffering from aggravation of underlying illness,” said Dr J C Suri, professor and head, department of pulmonary medicine at Safdarjung Hospital.

A senior doctor at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said they had admitted nearly 40 patients, who were directly or indirectly affected by pollution, in the past week. “Three patients are still on ventilator support,” he added.

High pollution levels, particularly the fine particulate matters, tend to make breathing difficult when they enter the lungs. They can also increase the level of carbon dioxide in bloodstream.

“The normal level of CO2, a waste product of bodily functions, is 36 to 40 millimetre of mercury. On Tuesday, we admitted a 62-year-old man whose CO2 levels was as high as 70 units. He was drowsy and barely able to breathe, which necessitated admission,” said Dr Arup Basu, chest specialist at Ganga Ram hospital. He added if urgent steps were not taken to check
“I have not been able to sleep well for the past three days. Due to pollution, there is constant coughing and the prescribed level of medication has failed to control that,” Abha Rani, a resident of Moti Bagh, said. On Friday, she had to be rushed to Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj.

Dr Vivek Nangia, who heads the pulmonology division at the hospital, said the situation was terrible. “My unit has seen nearly 400 patients suffering from respiratory distress in the past 10 days. Nearly 10% of these required admission for immediate control of symptoms,” he said.

While those suffering from acute symptoms are being treated, a large number of patients are likely to suffer from long-term complications due to increasing level of pollutants. “It could even trigger a heart attack or stroke,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant (internal medicine) at Apollo Hospital.

He advised the children, senior citizens and those suffering from pre-existing illnesses like asthma and COPD should avoid going out in the morning when there is more pollution. “One should drink plenty of water and consult a doctor if there is breathing difficulty,” Chatterjee said.


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