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Stay indoors during sand storms

Staff Reporter / 22 September 2012

The desert sands forming dunes on the outskirts of Dubai bring nice views. But at peak of summer, winds kick up sand storms that pose health problems to some sensitive people. This natural phenomenon can trigger varied types of diseases and allergies in the body as grains of sand can cause certain inflammatory reactions once inhaled.

“I have noticed that many patients are coming to the clinic mainly complaining of respiratory tract symptoms,” explained Dr Henry V Galuba, Jr.Specialist Internal Medicine, Zulekha Hospital, Dubai.

Certain diseases seen in the OPD which can be associated with increasing frequency of sandstorms in the summer are as follows.

  • Asthma – one of the triggers is dust. Hallmarks of asthma is paroxysmal coughing with associated wheezes and breathing problems.
  • Allergic Rhinitis – this presents with excessive sneezing with runny nose and teary eyes. This can be due to allergic reaction to any foreign particle, dust or sand.
  • Acute Sinusitis – This is an acute infection of the sinuses and presents usually with nasal discharge and frontal headache.
  • Acute Bronchitis - This is primarily a bacterial infection of the lower respiratory tract presenting with productive cough. Entry of foreign particles like sand can cause an inflammatory reaction.
  • Allergic Conjunctivitis — This presents with a red teary eye due to sand particles entering the conjunctiva of the eye.
  • Allergic Dermatitis – this is a very rare presentation. However, certain individuals also can have their skin irritated upon exposure to dust and sand particles.

We certainly cannot stop the sandstorms. Therefore, the only way to prevent these diseases is to stay indoors during these natural events.  If unavoidable, cover your nose and mouth and insulate your eyes from the impact with suitable glasses. 

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