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Caution advised as dust storm triggers allergies in UAE

Jasmine Al Kuttab /Abu Dhabi
Filed on August 2, 2018 | Last updated on August 2, 2018 at 06.54 am
Poor visibility on the Al Khail road due to a sandstorm in Dubai-Photo by Neeraj Murali
Poor visibility on the Al Khail road due to a sandstorm in Dubai-Photo by Neeraj Murali

The dust particles in the air are causing more people to come to the hospital with allergies.

It has been a gloomy week for residents across the country, which has even taken a toll on people's health conditions.

Medical experts say this week's dusty, humid weather has led to a 20 per cent increase in the number of patients admitted to hospitals, suffering from allergies and respiratory infections.

"It has been a very sandy week. The dust particles in the air are causing more people to come to the hospital with allergies, especially workers who spend a lot of time outside," said Dr Lizzie John, specialist otorhinolaryngology, Universal Hospital.

Dr John said she has already seen around 12 patients with allergies since the UAE weather conditions took a drastic turn.

The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) announced that the hazy weather will likely last until Thursday, and has already hit 49C in some parts of the country, while humidity levels reached between 55-75 per cent inland.

"I am seeing at least three patients each day suffering from allergies," she said.

She advised residents to stay indoors and avoid spending long hours outside during the hazy weather, which has even lead the police across the country to send out warnings to motorists, due to the low visibility caused by harsh dust.

Dr John also urged people to wear masks when stepping outside, especially workers who spend long hours in areas prone to dust particles, including construction sites.

Another reason as to why hospitals are seeing a rise in patients suffering from allergies this week, is related to spending long hours outside and then going indoors where the AC is on.

"This is a major issue in UAE - many people spend a lot of time outside, especially the workers standing in the heat and dust. Then they switch on the AC full blast when they come home."

Besides allergies, this can also cause the nose to block, she said.

"By night time, they go to sleep with a blocked nose and breathe through their mouths, which causes severe dryness."

She advised people with a blocked nose to inhale steam before going to sleep, wash their nose with saline water or a nose spray, and to avoid switching on the AC as soon as they arrive home after spending long hours outside.

Dr John also urged people to eat healthy, nutritious meals, filled with fruits and vegetables, to help keep their immune system in check, especially when there are severe weather changes, which causes 'bugs' to go around.

High risk patients beware of dusty, humid weather

Dr Trilok Chand, specialist - respiratory medicine, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, said the rise in humidity and major dust particles in this week's weather are a dangerous cocktail for people already suffering from respiratory diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Dr Chand stressed that the weather is also a major hazard to pregnant women, elderly people, babies and young children.

He pointed out that in the past two weeks alone, there has been a 20 per cent increase in patients suffering from allergies and respiratory infections.

"The most common infections this season are phenomia and the flu, in which we have seen a significant rise in patients."

Dr Chand advised people who are at high risk of infections, allergies and diseases, including the elderly, pregnant women, young children and those with health conditions, to stay indoors during the hazy, dusty weather.

"If they have to go outside, they have to wear masks to protect them.

"If those at risk feel their symptoms are beyond the normal, they have to contact their doctors immediately."

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