Sandstorm in UAE: Will it affect your health?

Healthcare specialist highlights that people with breathing problems are more prone to develop severe symptoms



Residents walk in the sandstorm in Sharjah on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Photo by Shihab
Residents walk in the sandstorm in Sharjah on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Photo by Shihab

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Wed 18 May 2022, 5:08 PM

Last updated: Wed 18 May 2022, 10:48 PM

A dust storm has engulfed the UAE for the past couple of days making it difficult for motorists and residents to venture out. The thick orange haze that has blanketed the country reduced visibility, and may trigger health issues.

Medical practitioners advice people to stay indoors during this period, pointing out that dust storms may cause several health issues and adversely affect the respiratory system.

Dr Muhammed Aslam, specialist pulmonologist, International Modern Hospital, Dubai, said that dust storms might trigger allergies like itchy throat, irritable eyes, throat and skin irritation, coughing or sneezing. “Along with the allergic situation, dust storms also make it difficult to breathe, including asthma attacks.

Dr Muhammed Aslam
Dr Muhammed Aslam

“Running nose, sneezing, throat discomfort, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and itchy eye are the symptoms of inhaling dust particles,” said Dr Aslam.

Dr Ahmed ElMansoury, consultant pulmonology, NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah, said that the dust and sandstorm carry infection and allergic particles.

“The symptoms occur because of exposure to the dust and other particles like viruses, bacteria and fungus that gets mixed in the dust,” added Dr ElMansoury.

Dr ElMansoury added that the dust storm may have increased symptoms for asthma patients and pneumonia patients.

Dr Ahmed ElMansoury
Dr Ahmed ElMansoury

Advice for people with Asthma

Healthcare specialists highlight that people with asthma are more prone to develop severe symptoms due to dust storms. “They should stay indoors and leave home or workplace only under extreme situations and wear a mask,” said Dr Aslam.

Prevention

Medicos have advised residents to follow these steps during sandstorm to avoid severe reactions.

  • Avoid going out; stay indoors
  • Use local forecast to learn about dust storms
  • Set air conditioner in recycle mode
  • Use your regular medication if asthmatic
  • Use your anti-allergic medicine
  • If exposed to d​ust storm regularly, symptoms may increase
  • Use protective eyewear.
  • Use face mask as protection while going outdoor during sandstorm

“Protective gears like masks and eyewear are necessary if one plans to go out during the storm. The best option one can choose N95 mask,” said Dr ElMansoury.

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