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People with long Covid need extra precaution in polluted air

People with long Covid need extra precaution in polluted air

New Delhi,  Pollution doesnt have an immediate effect on your health and according to health experts, the harmful effects are witnessed years later.

However, people suffering or have recovered from long Covid are at greater risk this year as air pollution knocks at our doors in north India

While the Punjab Pollution Control Board says it will take 4-5 years to solve the stubble burning problem, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently announced a 15-point Winter Action Plan to curb air pollution, with stubble burning remaining a top concern at this time of the year.

According to Gyanendra Agarwal, director, department of internal medicine, respiratory and critical care medicine, Jaypee Hospital, Noida, one should avoid strenuous activities, going outside, and engaging in outdoor physical activity like cycling, jogging etc. during early morning and evening hours.

"Patients who have recovered from Covid-19 and have respiratory-related illness should keep their inhaler and medicines handy and follow the above precautionary tips," Agarwal told IANS.

They should drink plenty of water since it clears the airways in the body, and take herbal tea, ginger tea and green tea as these help the body rinse out the toxins.

Exposure to air pollutants, in particular fine particles (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), increases the risk of hospitalisation in Covid patients by up to 30 per cent, even for the fully vaccinated, according to a study from the University of Southern California (USC) that analysed medical records from patients at Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC).

"These findings are important because they show that while Covid vaccines are successful in reducing the risk of hospitalisation, people who are vaccinated and exposed to polluted air are still at increased risk for worse outcomes than vaccinated people not exposed to air pollution," said Anny Xiang, study author and a senior research scientist at KPSC.

Muzaffar Izamuddin, design manager, environmental care at Dyson, told IANS that every year during this season, we tend to witness a rise in AQI levels and this year is no different.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) bulletin, the AQI in Delhi on October 5 was 211. AQI between 201 and 300 is considered to be �poor'.

"While poorer air quality is a concern now, outdoor air is only a part of the problem. Every day we can breathe in up to 9,000 litres of air and can be breathing in more pollutants indoors as we are spending up to 90 per cent of our time behind closed doors," Izamuddin informed.

As our homes increasingly become spaces where we work, exercise, sleep and play, the quality of the air we breathe in all aspects of our routine is non-negotiable.

"We are empowering people to breathe cleaner air and enjoy hygienic homes, taking back control of their indoor environment," he added.

Over the long term, pollution is linked to an increase in cardiovascular and lung diseases, which are in turn associated with more severe Covid symptoms, said researchers in a paper published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

In the short term, air pollution exposure may worsen inflammation in the lungs and could even alter the immune response to the virus, they said.

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