Doctors in the city are still treating a 29-year-old man who acquired chest infection from smoking hookahs at home.
Like most, the IT engineer too was smoking hookahs fired with ‘magic coal’. Magic coal contains harmful chemicals which helps it to burn faster. He was hospitalized two weeks ago to treat breathlessness, respiratory failure, and severe chest infection.
IT engineer bought this coal from Singapore and had been smoking it for past two months. Hookah is widely popular amongst youngsters and people frequently smoke it at home. Use of magic coal increased due to quicker ignition but it contains hazardous chemicals.
Dr Arvind Kate, pulmonologist from Zen Hospital, Chembur, said: “The patient, a frequent hookah smoker, had purchased a new hookah from Singapore and bought magic coal to smoke it at home. However, after two months of smoking it, he was rushed to the hospital with complaints of breathlessness,” said Dr Kate. A CT scan of the patient’s chest showed white patches across the lungs which according to the doctors, indicated severe chest infection caused by unknown bacteria.
“We kept the patient on continuous antibacterial and antifungal medicines for two weeks and kept him under observation. He was discharged recently and has been asked to abstain from smoking,” Dr Kate added.
Dr Nilkanth Awad, head of the department of pulmonology at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion, said burning of magic coal results in emission of hazardous gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. “Asthmatic patients are especially prone to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or bronchitis owing to the prolonged use of the coal. Apart from that, burning of the coal releases particulate matter which enters the lungs and increases chances of respiratory infection and lung failure,” said Dr Awad.
Oncologists said magic coal, hookah flavours and other smoking materials used in it contain 28 cancer-causing substances such as benzopyrine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and 3,000 other harmful chemicals. “Even when tobacco is not used, carbon monoxide, a highly poisonous gas is released by burning charcoal. Even though it is filtered by water, it is considered to be carcinogenic,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital.