Delhi air that has been the bane of its citizens' existence could worsen the situation for coronavirus patients. According to a top doctor, years of exposure to bad Delhi air has led to structural changes in lungs of its residents. Such changes not only increase chances of respiratory complications in the future, but Delhi residents might develop serious complications too if they contract coronavirus.
Dr Nitin P Ghonge, Senior Consultant Radiologist and Academic Coordinator at the radiology department of Apollo Hospital said that they recently conducted a study involving 120 patients and found that people living in Delhi-NCR are twice as likely to face structural changes to their lungs as compared to other states such as Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal, as mentioned in a report in Times of India.
Even people who do not smoke or have pre-existing lung illness were visiting hospitals for medical reasons. Dr Ghonge said that 63 per cent of patients from Delhi-NCR had damaged lung structure as compared to 38 per cent of patients from other states. The findings were done through CT densitometry that detects fine changes in lungs at an early stage that are otherwise not visible to the naked eye during routine CT scan.
The radiologist pressed on the need for measures to improve air quality. Dr Ghonge said that if adequate measures are not taken, these structural changes to lungs would gradually be visible on routine CT scan images and may cause respiratory symptoms.
Coronavirus is known for causing lasting damage to lungs. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, "COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, can cause lung complications such as pneumonia and, in the most severe cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. Sepsis, another possible complication of COVID-19, can also cause lasting harm to the lungs and other organs."
As like every winter, Delhi air quality has already started deteriorating as cases of stubble burning has gradually increased. The air quality had improved to unprecedented levels amid the nationwide lockdown. It has now deteriorated to 'moderate'. As per SAFAR estimates on Wednesday morning, Delhi University recorded AQI of 135, Pusa Road 145, Mathura Road 145, IIT Delhi 139, IGI Airport (Terminal 3) 149 and Ayanagar 111. Lodhi Road, however, is still in the satisfactory category with an AQI of 61.