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Why are UAE residents prone to pneumonia?

Asma Ali Zain /Dubai
asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com Filed on September 15, 2016 | Last updated on September 15, 2016 at 11.31 am
Why are UAE residents prone to pneumonia?

(Illustrative purpose / Alamy)

Specialists say change in temperature makes the body vulnerable to infections and age major factor in contracting the disease

While the US Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton's health has been in focus during this week due to a bout of pneumonia, UAE doctors say that the respiratory condition is of concern and also very common in the UAE.

Pneumonia has a high mortality rate, and according to the health experts, adults are very prone to this respiratory disease in the UAE.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, which causes the air sacs to fill up with fluid making it difficult for a person to breath. Bacteria, fungus or viruses cause pneumonia.

For most people, pneumonia can be treated at home. It often clears up in two to three weeks. But older adults, babies, and people with other diseases can become very ill. They may need to be in the hospital.

You may be more likely to get the disease after having a cold or the flu. These illnesses make it hard for your lungs to fight infection, so it is easier to get pneumonia. Having a long-term, or chronic, disease like asthma, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes also makes you more likely to get pneumonia.

Symptoms: Fever; Cough; Having chest pain that often feels worse when you cough or breathe in; Feeling very tired or very weak; Nausea and vomiting; Fast breathing or breathlessness; Shaking and 'teeth-chattering' chills; Diarrhea; Sign of pneumonia in older adults may be a change in how well they think. Confusion or delirium is common.

Know who is vulnerable 

Elderly; Diabetics; Smokers; Asthmatic people; Children

Dr Sandeep Pargi, specialist in respiratory medicine at Aster Hospital in Mankhool, said that age is a major factor in contracting the disease.

"After the age of 65, pneumonia can be contracted very easily," he said, adding that in the UAE the respiratory disease was more common in adults than in children. However, children under the age of five are also at risk.

Hillary was diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday and appeared unsteady on her feet. Her doctor said that Hillary had become "overheated and dehydrated".

"In Hillary's case, the infection seems to be community acquired since she has been travelling and meeting a lot of people during her campaign," said Dr Sandeep, who sees between 7-10 cases weekly.

He said that the disease can easily spread through infected droplets and only good hygiene can stop the spread.

"When we talk or cough, droplets can spread the infection," he said.

Aside from elders, people with diabetes, smokers and asthmatic people can also catch the bug easily.

With a mortality rate of 13 per cent, most pneumonia patients are hospitalised and treated using antibiotics if it is bacterial or fungal. Viral pneumonia cannot be treated with medicines.

"Since we live in an air-conditioned environment continuously in the UAE, this has also become a cause for the disease," said the doctor.

The disease is also very common in swimmers since infected waters may spread the disease to others.

Pediatric pneumonia is also very common in the country, said the doctor. "We see a lot of children suffering from the disease."

Change in temperatures, especially the cold, makes the body vulnerable to infections.

"Since this disease infects the lungs, drastic changes in temperatures can also cause it to become a severe disease," said Dr Sandeep, adding that the cases spike during winter and spring.

According to Dr Hassan Razien, specialist pulmonologist at Zulekha Hospital, mild cases and can be treated at home though people in the high-risk group need to be treated with antibiotics at the hospital.

"Pneumonia is preventable in most cases... and when coughing, it is important to maintain a good hygiene to stop the spread of the germs," said Dr Hassan.

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com

author

Asma Ali Zain

Associated with KT for 15 years. Covers health issues, Pakistan community, human interest stories as well as general topics for daily news or features.


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