PADUA – After a record 2022, the new year also begins under a blanket of smog. As the air reaches high levels of pollution, hospitalizations increase pneumonia. In recent weeks, the respiratory physiopathology ward of the Padua University Hospital has always been full: out of the 23 available beds, at least twenty are occupied by patients with acute phase respiratory problems and the remainder by cancer patients. «Unlike past years – explains Professor Andrea Vianello, director of the Operational Unit – we see many pneumonia, of three types: from Covid, from the flu virus and from Pneumococcus. Apart from Covid, there is a big recovery in infectious and bacterial pneumonia. But also exacerbations of bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The first cause is the non-use of masks, then there is the climate and pollution. We know that climatic conditions greatly affect respiratory health because they open the door for viruses or bacteria to enter”. In winter there are about 60 patients hospitalized every month.
«It is a demanding winter season from a respiratory point of view – underlines Professor Vianello – There are also many critical pictures linked to the flu virus, especially among the elderly. I remember that the best way to do prevention is to get vaccinated against the flu ». Fortunately, however, the weapons to fight it are there. «The flu is the only respiratory disease of viral origin that has its own specific therapy – declares Vianello -, unlike Covid. For some years now, we have had a specific antiviral available to treat influenza-induced pneumonia.
The respiratory system is the target organ of toxic substances circulating in the air. Several epidemiological and experimental studies have confirmed that air pollution in cities can be attributed significant shares of morbidity and mortality from neoplasms, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and allergic diseases. According to the Ministry of Health, future projections on climate variability suggest an increase in these effects in the coming decades. «Starting from the fact that caution is always needed in interpreting the facts – concludes Vianello – we can say that climate change and chronic exposure to pollutants negatively affect the health of patients and thus contribute to the worsening of their conditions. The advice is to avoid going around at times of the day when there is more vehicular traffic and to ventilate the internal rooms early in the morning ».