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November 13, 2019

Pneumonia, ARDS start hitting population in Potohar region


November 13, 2019

Islamabad: After a significant fall in mercury in this region of the country, serious respiratory tract infections including influenza, pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) have started hitting population as the healthcare facilities both in public and private sectors have been receiving patients with the problem.

Both pneumonia and ARDS are more fatal forms of respiratory tract infections and claim a good number of lives every year in the region particularly from October to November. According to many health experts, the deaths from the infections can be avoided by creating awareness among public.

Data collected by ‘The News’ reveals that the ARDS has been claiming well over 100 lives almost every year for the last many years from October to December only in public sector hospitals of the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

According to Dr. Muhammad Haroon, an Intensive Care Specialist in the federal capital, the number of deaths due to pneumonia and ARDS is high mainly because majority of our population do not take measures to avoid these.

Studies reveal that in dry and cold weather conditions, the atmosphere is filled with pollutants including dust and toxins and breathing in harmful substances including dense smoke and chemical fumes triggers ARDS.

Dr. Haroon believes that the number of patients of respiratory tract infections including pneumonia and ARDS is already on the rise and the situation may get worse if proper preventive measures are not followed by the individuals.

He said all patients with cough, fever, lethargy and thick viscid sputum for over three days should undergo a chest X RAY to avoid complications of the infection.

ARDS is the most fatal and dangerous complication of pneumonia. It is a condition in which patient with chest infection becomes unable to maintain oxygenation level due to lungs’ dysfunction. The accumulation of fluid and secretions in airspaces impair the transfer of oxygen to blood, said Dr. Haroon.

According to him, majority of patients of ARDS reported in previous years were the ones having flu, pneumonia, chest infections and other such ailments.

Experts say that an outbreak of flu is expected after the setting in of cold weather. Studies reveal that the ARDS patient has severe air hunger and suffocation that abruptly starts within few hours and progress rapidly. Both lungs are filled with fluid that clogs the airways drowning patients in their own secretions.

According to Dr. Haroon, the only way out for an ARDS patient is high index of suspicion, early diagnosis and immediate treatment in an ICU. It is worth mentioning here that the ARDS patient needs ICU care for at least four weeks afterwards recovery starts and complete cure takes three to six months generally. The available data reveals that mortality after developing ARDS ranges from 90 to 100 per cent in non-ventilated patients in Pakistan.

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