Breathless Hyderabad Gasps for Fresh Air
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05 May 2010
Chest Hospital Registers 80-100 Deaths Per Month Due To Respiratory Diseases
Urbanised Hyderabad is clinging on to inhalers and city doctors are clocking in more hours treating an increasing number of Hyderabadis who wheeze and cough as routinely as they, well, breathe normally. Laptop wielding professionals are now carrying not just their mobile phones in their pockets but also inhalers in their laptop bags.
What is alarming is the rise in the number of children who are turning asthmatic in the city and on World Asthma Day, observed on Tuesday, doctors found a breathless Hyderabad gasping for fresh air. In not so far Mumbai, the main cause of death has shifted from cardiac cases to respiratory illnesses and city doctors say that Hyderabad is just getting there.
Be it the case of a 30–year–old passive smoker who started getting bouts of wheezing owing to her chain–smoking husband, or that of a four–year–old who now carries an inhaler to school along with his books and lunch.
Appearing fit except for periodic bouts of wheezing, there are more Hyderabadis that fit this category now.
Pulmonologists at city hospitals are witnessing a three–fold increase in respiratory diseases in the city in the last couple of years.
In fact, cases of respiratory diseases including asthma, TB, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and respiratory tract infections make for 65–70 per cent of cases in the general OP of hospitals on any given day. Of these, 40 per cent are directly or indirectly related to allergy or asthma. Notably, the citybased AP General & Chest Hospital is registering a staggering 80–100 deaths per month due to respiratory diseases. Attributing the alarming rise in the cases to uncontrolled pollution, urbanisation and vanishing lung spaces, among other factors, doctors say that in Hyderabad, two to three out of 10 schoolchildren suffer from allergy or asthma.
Dr K Sailaja, pulmonologist, Apollo Hospitals, says that 12 per cent of the city’s population has asthma.
“Inhalation of allergens such as cement, dust and fumes, among other chemicals can result in more asthma cases,” says Dr Vyakarnam Nageshwar, a pulmonologist. He says that with largescale urbanisation, people are increasingly being exposed to allergens such as cement.
Further, as per the WHO’s revised estimates, COPD, which is caused due to tobacco and exposure to noxious particles or gases, is predicted to become the third as against the fifth leading cause of death by 2020.
Dr N Ravindra, consultant pulmonologist, Aware–Global Hospital says,“The air quality of Hyderabad is unhealthy. Vehicular pollution is contributing to 70 per cent of the pollution. WHO estimates that the asthma cases would go up by 50 per cent by 2016.”