Mumbai: The slight nip in the air has led to an increase in the number of patients, both young and old, visiting the doctor’s clinic. Patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have to be extra careful, especially with the start of Diwali, said doctors.

The increase in air pollution levels due to lighting of firecrackers could, said doctors, worsen the health of children with wheezing problems and the elderly with breathing difficulties. “People should avoid crackers that emit more smoke than light,” said chest specialist Dr Sujeet Rajan, who consults at Bombay Hospital, New Marine Lines.

A senior doctor said the end of October is usually the time for viral infections. “People get affected by viruses that trigger colds, coughs and even wheezing,” the doctor said.

Paediatrician Dr Indu Khosla who practises in Andheri said it is difficult to establish whether children are getting breathing problems due to viral infections or air pollution. “But many children have started coming to the out-patients department with exacerbations. In fact, I admitted two children with exacerbations today,” said Dr Khosla, adding that such a rise in number of patients is normal around Diwali.

She, though, added children who are under medication for asthma should be kept away from smoke from crackers as well as tobacco. “New research suggests that if such a child comes in contact with second-hand cigarette smoke, his or her medicines won’t be as effective.” Dr Rajan said all age groups are affected by air pollution but the young and the old are the most susceptible. He said the elderly should be advised to take vaccines against flu because it makes them susceptible to lung infections.

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Source: TOI-MUM