UAE: Surge in allergy cases linked to weather changes, medics say

Doctors explain higher temperatures can lead to increased pollen production by plants which impact many individuals adversely


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 24 May 2023, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 24 May 2023, 10:16 PM

Medics in the UAE have noted a rise in allergic reactions among residents, witnessing a rise in patient numbers.

Doctors in the UAE highlight that in the last week, healthcare centres and clinics in the country have witnessed increased patient footfall due to changes in weather patterns. This includes oscillations between showers and rising temperatures, humidity fluctuations and variations in air quality.

“All of this potentially triggers allergies, manifesting into various ways, and symptoms like a sore throat and puffy eyes are common allergic reactions. So, there has been an increase in patients seeking medical care for allergy-related issues. Seasonal changes bring an increase in airborne irritants, such as dust, mold spores, or pollen that trigger allergic reactions or exacerbate respiratory conditions,” says Dr Mohamed Saifeldin Abdelrahman Mohamed, Pulmonologist, Thumbay University Hospital.

He adds, “Certain viral infections like the common cold or flu tend to circulate more frequently with the fluctuation in temperature and humidity as it creates an environment favourable for these viruses to spread, resulting in a higher number of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms or flu-like illnesses.”

Doctors explain higher temperatures can lead to increased pollen production by plants which impact many individuals adversely.

“Several patients have experienced allergies triggered by pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds – commonly known as hay fever. When the temperature rises, these plants release more pollen into the air, making it more likely for individuals sensitive to pollen to experience allergy symptoms. Once you inhale pollen particles, your immune system may overreact, leading to inflammation and allergic symptoms. A sore throat can occur due to postnasal drip, where excess mucus from the nasal passages drips down the throat, causing irritation. Puffy or swollen eyes can result from the release of histamine, which causes blood vessels in the eyes to dilate and become inflamed,” says Mohamed.

They explain allergies are a response of the body to a substance called an allergen, which in itself may not be harmful. However, in some people, usually harmless things can provoke a reaction.

Sharp rise in allergic diseases among children

“Cases related to allergic diseases in children have increased in the past few weeks in the form of redness of the eyes, skin rash, runny nose, and asthma. It is due to the rise of allergens, which provoke allergic reactions,” says Dr Mostafa Maged Hatem, Consultant Pediatrics, Burjeel Farha Hospital, Al Ain.

“Some families seem particularly prone to allergies, and they have a condition known as atopy. People in atopic families can develop problems such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever. It is an inherited problem, and these people are more likely to develop an allergic disorder,” he added.

They point out allergens are the things that people are commonly allergic to, which include milk, eggs, nuts (especially peanuts and Brazil nuts), sesame, shellfish and other seafood, wheat, soya, and some fruits such as citrus and kiwi.

Other allergens include house dust mites, animals, especially domestic pets such as cats and dogs, wasps and bee stings, medicines - for example, the antibiotic penicillin, chemicals such as latex and tree and grass pollen.

Dr Rehab Ahmed, Specialist Internal Medicine, Medcare Hospital Sharjah says, “We are seeing a lot of patients coming with sore throats and red eyes. In some cases, it is due to a viral infection owing to seasonal changes in the UAE. Allergic reactions are due to other causes like dust and pollen. This is treated with simple medications and eye drops. People can prevent these allergies by restricting their exposure to dust and pollen.”


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