Bathinda/Jalandhar/ Sangrur/Ludhiana/Amritsar: With a sharp rise in air pollution in Punjab, health experts have noted an increase in the number of patients reporting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), shortness of breath, wheezing , chest tightness, frequent respiratory infections, and excess mucus in the lungs.
Air pollution increases each winter when pollution from stubble burning combines with suspended water particles in the lower atmosphere to form a thick layer of noxious smog, thus creating health risks.
Air Quality Index (AQI) turned ‘very poor’ in various parts of Punjab on Thursday as agricultural fires continue unabated. Patiala recorded an AQI of 333, Ludhiana 366, Bathinda 300, Jalandhar 280 and Amritsar 317.
Health experts in the southwestern districts of Punjab blame the rampant burning of crop residues as a key factor behind the rise in cases.
The above trend indicates that since 2016, just seven districts in Punjab contribute more than 45% of the total agricultural fire cases statewide.
Dr. Kiranjit Kaur, a chest expert at Guru Gobind Singh State Medical College, Faridkot, said the throughput of patients in the outpatient department (OPD) and emergency wing with respiratory diseases has tripled in the last two or three weeks.
“Climate change and rice residue burning are some of the key factors behind the surge. Apart from Faridkot, we receive patients from Bathinda, Moga and Ferozepur districts,” she said.
Health authorities said a surge in the number of patients is expected this week as the rice harvest picks up in Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar and other districts.
The Ferozepur civil hospital alone treats around 25 cases of respiratory problems every day compared to a daily average of 10 patients on other days.
A senior pulmonary medicine consultant at a leading private hospital in Ferozepur, Dr. Javed Ali, said people in rural areas are worst affected due to their proximity to the burned fields.
Elderly, asthmatics and children are the most affected in Jalandhar, Kapurthala
Doctors say that the elderly, asthma patients and children are the most affected in the Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts of the Doaba region. People fill hospitals complaining of coughs, nasal allergies and other problems.
A senior doctor stationed at the Jalandhar civil hospital said there has been a 20% increase in patients with respiratory diseases in the outpatient department.
Jalandhar Civilian Hospital Medical Superintendent Rajiv Sharma said multiple factors, including airborne particles from the rice harvest, stubble burning, firecrackers going off on Diwali and weather conditions, are causing the increase in respiratory diseases.
Kapurthala Senior Medical Officer Mohanpreet Singh said there has been an increase in patients with respiratory tract infections and asthma. He also blamed air pollution for the increase in patients.
30% increase in patients with respiratory problems in Sangrur, Ludhiana
Sangrur district has witnessed an increase of around 30% in patients with respiratory problems, including cough, shortness of breath, runny nose and itchy eyes, according to doctors at the civil hospital.
Doctors said that patients from all groups complaining of such symptoms have been arriving at the Sangrur civilian hospital since Diwali.
Sangrur district is the most affected this season. It has recorded around 2,821 cases so far with peak cases reported after Diwali. Before Diwali, there were only 194 cases of stubble burning in the district.
Dr. Himanshu Garg, MD, a doctor, deployed to the civilian hospital, said, “Around 30 to 35 patients who complain of shortness of breath, cough and other problems visit every day. Previously, the number of such patients was 30% lower than this.”
According to doctors at the Ludhiana civil hospital, the outpatient department (OPD) has witnessed a 30% increase in patients with respiratory problems, coughs and sneezes. The condition of comorbid patients has worsened.
“There has been a marked increase in the number of patients who need hospitalization and suffer from serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Before Diwali, everyone was living a normal life, but the sudden increase in stubble burning cases after Diwali compounded their problems,” said Dr. Amanpreet Kaur Brar, MD (medicine) at the civilian hospital.
Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMC&H) also witnessed an increase in the number of patients suffering from allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, and asthma since October 24.
Those prone to respiratory diseases breathless in Majha
The burning of rice stubble and the breaking of crackers on Diwali have also affected the health of people in the Majha region.
Private and government medical facilities have witnessed an increase in the number of patients suffering from respiratory problems.
Due to the high amount of humidity, a thick layer of smog has engulfed the region for the past few days.
Not only the elderly, but also children face breathing difficulties. Those who are prone to asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are having a hard time these days. Children complain of cough, nasal congestion, and swelling in the throat.
Doctors say there is a 30-35% increase in the flow of patients, while officials from the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and the department of agriculture see no relief from such situations in the coming days. like harvest season. it’s close to over.
(Contributions by Vishal Joshi, Gagandeep Jassowal, Harmandeep Singh, Mohit Khanna, and Anil Sharma)