With toxic smog engulfing the Capital on Tuesday, doctors advised people not to go out, particularly in the morning and evening hours. They suggested that people should also avoid physical activities like cycling or jogging as it leads to inhalation of greater volumes of minute pollutants.

Dr Puneet Khanna, Senior Consultant of Department of Interventional Pulmonology, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Aakash Healthcare, said the most vulnerable group includes newborns, children, pregnant women, elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, angina and cardiac diseases.

He also said the peaks in air pollution often irritate the upper and lower respiratory system making it harder to breathe.

Dr Sandeep Nayar, Senior Consultant, Respiratory Medicine, Allergy & Sleep Disorder, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, said, “The cover of smog and air pollution in the city is raising environmental problems with respiratory diseases. Air pollutants, if inhaled have serious impact on human health causing breathlessness, watering of eyes and nose, burning sensation in eyes, excessive cough, chest pain, dizziness, headache, etc.”

The current level of air pollution also poses a high risk to pregnant women and the baby in the womb. Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, Gynaecologist, Obstetrician & IVF Expert, Nurture IVF Centre, said, “The foetus receives oxygen from the mother, and if she is breathing polluted air it can increase the health risks of unborn babies.”

She also said prenatal exposure to pollutants increases risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight. “The major risk factor is the baby developing asthma at later stage,” she added.

Doctors said the only way to protect one self from toxic gases is to stay indoors. As some preventive measures, Dr Vikas Maurya, Senior Consultant of Department of Pulmonology & Sleep Disorders, Fortis hospital, said, “To ensure that indoor air pollution does not take place make sure there is a chimney in the kitchen and an exhaust in the bathroom, consume fruits rich in Vitamin C, magnesium and omega fatty acids.”