Twenty-four-year-old Nandini Mehta dismissed a runny nose thinking she was suffering from just another bout of common cold. It was only when the Sion resident found herself gasping for breath frequently thereafter did she see a doctor.
“A day after my nose started running, phlegm accumulated in the chest and I began to suffer from severe breathlessness. It turned out to be a case of allergic bronchitis. The doctors confirmed that many patients’ conditions exacerbate in winters,” says Mehta.
Recent fluctuations in temperatures have led to a spurt in respiratory illnesses in Mumbai. Even as the mercury has often fallen below 20°C since the start of the year, Friday turned out to be the coldest day of this season at 12.6°C. Hot afternoons and chilly evenings have begun to take a toll on residents’ health.
City doctors say many patients complaining of viral fever, allergy and a resurgence of upper respiratory infections have been lining up outside their offices. Hospitals are seeing a 15-20% increase in the flow of patients with respiratory disorders.
“There is a rise in the number of patients suffering from bronchial asthma and respiratory allergies. Respiratory distress symptoms in smokers get aggravated during winters,” explains Dr Hakim Pardawalla, consulting physician at Saifee Hospital in Charni Road.
Pollutants, say doctors, add to the trouble. They stay suspended in the air due to low temperatures, hitting those with a vulnerable immunity, says Dr Vijay Yewale, convener, Indian Academy of Paediatrics Committee on Immunisation.
Winter diarrhoea and viral dysentery cases, warns Dr Rohit Agarwal, consulting paediatrician, SevenHills Hospital at Andheri.
Even though Mumbai’s winter pales in comparison to that of cities up north, doctors warn that sudden drops in temperatures can cause a 20% rise in blood pressure.