The prevalence of chronic cough and wheeze illnesses is “exponentially rising,” according to leading pulmonologists in Hyderabad.

Up until three months ago, Kavya Reddy, a local of Banjara Hills, would have been regarded as a healthy 20-year-old. She had no underlying comorbidities, had a healthy diet, and performed her daily exercises.

Since early December, however, Kavya has been relentlessly coughing, and has developed wheezing. After several rounds of antibiotics, a few chest x-rays, her doctors suggested she get tested for influenza. She is currently on heavy medication, and her road to recovery is much longer than expected.

Top pulmonologists in Hyderabad are witnessing an ‘exponential rise’ in the number of chronic cough, wheezing, upper-respiratory infections since December last year – estimating it to be almost five-fold increase, as compared to previous years.

“We see such cases every year because of winter, drop in temperature. It lasts for a month or so. But now we are in March, and still witnessing cases. This year the infection rates have been very high and we have been documenting them because these patients are getting admitted,” said Dr Jayalakshmi of Apollo Hospitals in Jubilee Hills, a pulmonologist with over 25 years of experience, told #Khabarlive.

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There is a pattern, say doctors. While the fever lasts for only three-four days, it is the dry cough, sore throat, or hoarseness in voice that is persistent.

“Usually, we see one among hundred who has excessive cough. But right now, 50 percent of patients have this,” Dr Jayalakshmi added.

Like that of 35-year-old Preeti Rao, who is running a cloud kitchen, in Toluchowki area. She first started experiencing a ‘scratch’ in her throat in early January, which turned into what she thought was ‘viral infection.’ When #Khabarlive spoke to her, she was still under medication, and has not been any better.

“I have been tested for almost everything. From COVID, to influenza, to swine flu. But this chronic cough just won’t stop.”

“Normally, if you have a viral infection, the cough should subside in two-three days. These infections are self-limiting. But here, we witness persistent cough – more than 10 days, more than a month, or even two months in many cases,” Dr Prithvi, Consultant, Pulmonary Medicine department at Care Hospitals in Banjars Hills told #Khabarlive.

“Post a viral infection, five to 10 percent of people would have these persistent symptoms. But the number is way too high to ignore now,” he added.

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Why Is This Happening?

The top pulmonologists, who spoke to #Khabarlive, point all fingers at pollution, and the relentless construction that is happening all across the city. On 14 February, Hyderabad overtook Delhi as the second-most polluted city in the world, as per global Air Quality Index.

A Delhi vs Hyderabad war, the city should not be proud of winning, the doctor added.

“It has become harder to breathe in the city. There has been construction across the city, the and it is making recovery slower because people are being exposed to severly polluted air. The AQI levels have dropped so drastically, even in Old City areas which is known for better air quality, and more green cover,” Dr Jayalakshmi said.

“Older people with bronchial asthma, chronic lung proble because of dust exposure are also taking longer to recover than usual. Delayed clearance from infection causes mucous plugging. It triggers underlying conditions, people are recovering slowly or late.”

There are multiple studies that point that pollution affects basically the respiratory system, the lungs and leads to increase in the pro-inflammatory condition. The patient thus is not only at the risk of asthma attacks, but is also at the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), experts point.

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When Should You See a Doctor?

According to Dr Parikh, persistent symptoms in children, and senior citizens should definitely not be ignored – and so should symptoms in adults who have no co-morbidities.

Experts suggest that you must consult a general physician or a pulmonologist if you have:

  • Persistent fever after 3-4 days
  • Dry cough or sore throat beyond a week
  • Difficulties in breathing when you hit the bed
  • Irritational cough at night

Signs of asthma or wheezing in those who have not been diagnosed earlier as “I am seeing really young patients with influenza – who have to get admitted to hospitals, without any sort of comorbidities. It is concerning, so if you have persistent symptoms, start treatment early,” Dr Jayalakshmi added.

But what’s important is to also complete the course of treatment, according to Dr Sabnis. “Complete your antibiotics course. Do not stop it thinking you are getting better. And, avoid exposure to smoke as much as you can,” she said. #hydnews #hydkhabar #livehyd