UAE: Dusty weather causing spike in allergies, respiratory illness; 8 tips to stay safe

Doctors witness increase in asthma flare-ups, chest infections


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Mon 15 Aug 2022, 4:20 PM

Last updated: Mon 15 Aug 2022, 10:35 PM

Abu Dhabi doctors said they have witnessed an increase in cases of asthma and other respiratory illnesses over the past few days as the country experiences unstable weather conditions.

The medical experts also shared advice on staying safe and avoiding allergies and respiratory attacks during dusty weather.

A dust storm swept through the UAE Capital on Sunday, which caused visibility to drop to less than 500 metres over some areas.

Dr Rania Zein Eldien, Respiratory Specialist at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi says during prolonged sandstorms, there has been a mild to moderate increase in respiratory symptoms in patients known to have chronic lung disease.

"Patients with asthma, bronchiectasis, and chronic obstructive lung disease are affected by coarse dust particles contained in sandstorms. The increase in respiratory symptoms is related to dust exposure," she said.

"The dust storm triggers itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, coughing or sneezing, headache, and acute asthmatic attack."

Eldien stresses that she usually advises her patients not to get direct exposure to dust by avoiding outdoor activities, and, if it is necessary, they must wear a face mask.

Dr Mohammed Zaqout, Consultant Internal Medicine with Prime Hospital, says people suffering from dust allergies are familiar with the sign and symptoms caused by dusty weather.

"Many people don't know the actual cause of dust allergy," he said. "Pollens and dust serve as allergic pyrogen to lungs and can exacerbate allergic attacks resulting into serious health issues such as asthma, sneezing, running nose, difficulty in the breathing and they need immediate medical attention."

He added: "People with serious health issues should avoid such weather and keep themselves safe."

Dr Faisal Hamza Dalvi, Specialist Internal Medicine at Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, Reem Island said: "There has been an increase in asthma flareups and chest infections over the past few days."

People at risk during dusty conditions, according to Dalvi, include; people who are immunocompromised, people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, people with a history of allergies and hay fever, pregnant ladies, children and the elderly.

"Cold air is dry and it can irritate your airways. It can also make you produce more mucus, which can make your asthma feel worse," he said.


Dr Dalvi says it is important for people prone to dust allergy using these simple and effective measures:

  • Cover your nose and mouth to protect your airways while outside
  • Wear protective eyewear and rinse your eyes with water if your eyes are irritated
  • Avoid busy and crowded places; it is better to stay indoors, with windows and doors closed
  • Avoid any strenuous exercise
  • Consider taking some anti-histamine (allergy) tablets if your hay fever gets worse during sandstorms
  • Use petroleum jelly to moisten your nostrils so they don't dry out
  • Take the flu jab, if you have not taken one
  • Follow the asthma action plan from your doctor

The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) had earlier announced that there would be an extension of air depression accompanied by rains of different intensities in the Eastern and Southern regions until Thursday.


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