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Choked in Delhi: How to survive in a polluted city

Anonna Dutt,: Sarita Surana, 52, skips her morning walks on days when the roads are dusty and the pollution levels are high. She has been living

with asthma and bronchitis for 15 years and uses an inhaler daily to dilate her airways and help her breathe. On the days the inhaler fails to help her, she uses a nebuliser, a device that helps in inhaling the drugs better.
“I have to be very careful because of my asthma. Before going anywhere, I go to the balcony and if their air is too polluted, I either don’t go out or use a mask. Sometimes, I feel tired after being out for an hour,” said Surana.
Like her, adopting measures to protect themselves from pollution as become a part of routine for many thousands, especially during the smoggy winter months.
“Air pollution causes short-term problems like cough, sore throat and eye irritation for most people, but people with chronic respiratory disorders such as asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) may need medical management when pollution levels go up,” said Dr Rajesh Chawla, consulting pulmonologist at Indraprastha Apollo hospital.
“Every winter,there is a spike in the number of patients with respiratory problems. This could be due to the concentration of pollution in the lower levels of the atmosphere, but also because of dipping temperatures and viral infections doing rounds,” said Dr Nevin Kishore, head of the department of broncology at Max Hospital, Saket.An increase in the number of people living with chronic respiratory problem is also linked to pollution. “A report by the Central Pollution Control Board said every third child in Delhi has some kind of lung impairment,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhary, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment .

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