The pollution is deadly for the lungs – paving the way for diseases like pneumonia, COPD and many others.
As pollution levels drop in the capital, there is an increasing need to raise awareness about the damage caused to our lungs. We talk to doctors to gain an insight.
The capital city is up in smokes — the pollution levels may not be rising but the numbers have constantly been hovering in the very poor to severe category and according to SAFAR, it currently stands at 339 .
The pollution is deadly for the lungs – paving the way for diseases like pneumonia, COPD and many others. But, not to fear, doctor sahabs are here! Dr. Rohit Arora points out that pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death among children under five in the country and the world. He adds, “Earlier, such instances were confined to kids exposed to indoor pollution where chulhas and smoking was common but now it’s everywhere thanks to the polluted air which is affected the community as a whole.” He observes that around 70-80% of children were admitted to the hospital this month due to respiratory issues. Neonates are experiencing nasal block and are requiring observation/admissions in neonatal intensive care (NICU).
A study conducted by the Lung Care Foundation found alarming levels of lead, manganese, nickel, barium, iron, and silicon in the national capital region. While Delhi has taken the kick in terms of pollution, the problem is pan-Indian. Hardly any region in the country is anywhere close to the standards set by the World Health Organization, except when there is continuous rain over a sustained period of time. Although we have more than 10,000 operational Health and Wellness Centers (HWC) that regularly screen people for non-communicable diseases, COPD conspicuously does not have a national screening program, even though the deadly disease was responsible for more fatalities than malaria, tuberculosis, and breast cancer combined.
Savitha Kuttan, a CEO of a social health enterprise believes, “Physicians should also conduct compulsory smoking assessments and refer their patients to cessation resources to promote good health and reduce the risk of lung cancer. The public must be educated on the risk of using solid fuels for cooking, and the government must provide subsidies on LPG, induction stoves, and forced draft improved biomass cookstoves to encourage cleaner cooking methods.”
Living in a polluted environment also exposes your body to free radicals. Dr. Srividya Nandkumar believes that in order to combat their adverse effects, one must include foods that are rich in antioxidants, like blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, carrots, and kidney beans. More specifically, “For asthma patients, including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, etc in the diet will bring down inflammation in the body and alleviate the symptoms of indoor air pollution.”
Interestingly, jaggery also has anti-allergic properties that help detoxify the lungs and relax the respiratory muscles. But that was the eating side of things — what needs to be done? Well, this is one of the things that can be done; introducing yoga asanas, pranayama, kriyas, and steam inhalation into the daily routine will also help increase lung capacity, cleanse the nasal cavity and combat pollutants. On the same note, the doctor adds, “Start your day with Kapalabhati, a very effective cleansing kriya and follow it up with anulom vilom pranayama, which is especially effective for people with respiratory problems.”, she sums up.