Clean air-conditioners keep diseases at bay

DUBAI — Bronchial allergies, asthma, ear infections, recurrent cold and dry cough are rampant in UAE and are increasing at an alarming rate mainly due to dirty air-conditioning systems, say experts.

By A Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 28 Jul 2008, 1:34 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:18 PM

"Since the ACs are operational 24 hours a day during summer, it is vital that the filters are properly cleaned up so as to prevent infectious diseases such as cold, coughs and allergies," suggested Salman Mohammed, a general practitioner based in Sharjah.

He said, "Use of ACs is compulsory in homes, but for people suffering from allergies particular care needs to be taken. People with asthma, allergy or ENT problems are most at risk."

"Due to the intense heat in the summer months, it is natural that the ACs are working full time in homes. But it is vital that we keep them extremely clean so that we do not end up falling ill," he added.

According to experts, proper AC maintenance means keeping the indoor air free of biological contaminants which can cause health problems.

"Unclean air-conditioners are a prevalent cause of common diseases such as flu, cough, allergy and fever as AC ducts encourage growth of moulds," said Dubai-based ENT specialist Dr M. Shukla.

He said that children need to have extra protection against moulds since during summer they spend much of their time indoors.

Commenting on the central air-conditioning system, Dr Shukla said that oversized or improperly designed system can create enough moisture that leads to mould growth. "People living in centrally air-conditioned accommodations can have a stuffy nose, eye irritation, wheezing or skin irritation," he adds.

"Mildew is found in ducts of cooling systems. Other than that, dust mites and their waste are the most common agents in indoor air which cause allergies," he explained.

In order to take measures and avoid allergy, you might need to lower humidity in your home, suggests Dr Khan.

Scientific studies have proved that in-house pollution is much more dangerous to health than what we face outdoors.

It is because, fungal and dust particles are in higher concentration indoors," says general practitioner Dr R Gupta. Lack of cross ventilation along with wall-to-wall carpeting in most houses worsens the problem, he adds.

Malikka, a housewife, said that her two-year-old daughter was constantly falling sick. "I was unable to understand the cause of her illness since I made sure that she ate well and all cleanliness was maintained," she explained.

"Eventually, doctors discovered that she was probably suffering from some allergy. Finally, we zeroed in on the AC and had it cleaned out," says Malikka.

"Now we make it a point to have it cleaned regularly."

While precautionary measures like avoiding carpets, furry materials and opening the windows and doors for at least an hour daily can be taken, regular cleaning of the air conditioners is needed to prevent the problem, said Dr Gupta.

Another resident, 34-year-old Fazila Mahmoud, remarked that doctors could not pinpoint the reason when on several occasions her eyes turned red and she sneezed a lot.

"My condition worsens when I am exposed to cold and then hot places and vice versa, or it can be sparked off by some perfumes," she says, adding that she suspects the unclean air conditioning systems to be one of the causes.

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