New Delhi: With the onset of winter, the hospitals in the northern states of India are witnessing a huge rush of patients with respiratory ailments, especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a long-term lung disease that makes it hard to breathe, said Dr Naresh Purohit, Advisor for National Programme for Climate Change and Human Health (NPCCHH) .

Sharing his concern on this issue noted Disaster Respiratory Health Expert Dr Purohit told Vibrant News that the growing prevalence of COPD in northern states - Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh , National Capital New Delhi and Union Territory of J&K is worrisome.

He pointed that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the third leading cause of death worldwide. It is a preventable but progressively worsening and incurable disease which consists of inflammation of the airways and damage to the airspaces that help in the transfer of oxygen into the blood.

“Smoking is the greatest risk factor, however, pollution both indoor and outdoor have been attributed to cause and worsen COPD. Numerous studies have shown a greater decline in lung function when a person with COPD has prolonged exposure to NO2 and particulate matter in the air,”he said

Renowned Epidemiologist Dr Purohit averred that according to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the burning of agricultural residue — a contributor to north India’s winter pollution — increases the risk of respiratory illnesses threefold for those who experience it. It may also be responsible for an annual $30 billion (approximately ₹2 trillion) loss in terms of days of work lost in northern states affected by crop burning.

He revealed that post COVID-19  situation of COPD patients have become severe and more people are landing up in the hospitals.

He said that patients suffer from a syndrome known as post—viral bronchial hyperactivity and these  patients have to be put on inhalers. All of these patients need to go for an influenza vaccine.

He averred that the mucus membranes become dry in cold dry weather as a result they become vulnerable to infection “that is why one witnesses  a lot of respiratory issues during winters,” he added.

Acclaimed physician advised people to take the necessary precautions during the winters so that they can save themselves from respiratory ailments.

He said that the people with COPD and asthma should cover themselves well with woolens and avoid coming out of their houses during morning and evening.

He said people shouldn’t sit in overcrowded rooms and there should be a proper ventilation system in the room.

“People should prefer a protein-rich diet. The drinking water should be boiled and people should avoid fire pots,” he added.

He said that freezing weather depresses the immune system and thus a person becomes prone to respiratory infection.

“Co-morbid patients are more vulnerable to other infections. So the severity is more, “he added.