Asthma attacks on the rise in UAE as winds whip up sand and dust

ABU DHABI // Asthmatics are ignoring precautions, and the effects brought on by dust in the air is sending them to hospital. Asthma attacks have been on the rise this week as winds whip up sand and dust, with as many as 20 per cent more patients visiting clinics for treatment or being admitted to […]

ABU DHABI // Asthmatics are ignoring precautions, and the effects brought on by dust in the air is sending them to hospital.

Asthma attacks have been on the rise this week as winds whip up sand and dust, with as many as 20 per cent more patients visiting clinics for treatment or being admitted to hospital than normal days.

“In the past two days we’ve had a lot of dust blowing and this has led to an increase in the number of patients who have asthma coming to us,” said Dr Ashok Kumar, specialist in respiratory medicine at Al Noor Hospital.

“There are many patients who have asthma and ignore the symptoms. We see a worsening of their asthma and then they have to be admitted.”

Dr Kumar said asthmatics often experienced shortness of breath and other symptoms during dust storms. He warned them against going outdoors.

“Remain indoors and if you must go out, remember to wear a medical mask,” he said.

“And always keep your inhalers with you.”

People who work outdoors should also take precautions, Dr Kumar said. “Workers can wear medical masks, especially if they have asthma. Many of them came to us and told us that their asthma had flared up.”

Abu Dhabi resident Jacqueline Wood has been forced to stay home for the past two days.

“I have had asthma since I was a child,” Ms Wood said. “The weather has made it flare up. I’ve been on ventolin and a nebuliser for the past two days. I’m avoiding going out.”

Dr Amr Elekiaby, consultant in pulmonary medicine at NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City, said he had to admit a patient on Tuesday with complications.

“I just admitted a patient to the hospital with asthma exacerbation,” Dr Elekiaby said. “Patients who have asthma underestimate the severity of symptoms. A lot of people have to take precautions.

“Many patients wait a long time to seek help. It’s better if they seek help faster.”

Asthma sufferers have difficulty breathing during an attack, usually connected to an allergic reaction or other kinds of hypersensitivity related to dusty and humid weather.

“If someone has asthma and they develop a cough in such weather, they should not take it lightly. If they have any symptoms then they should see a doctor,” said Dr Elekiaby.

An inflammation in the airways can soon escalate to wheezing. Sufferers may need their medicine doses to be adjusted.

“If the weather is too hot and humid, don’t make the air-conditioning very cold. Allow the change in your body temperature to happen gradually.”

Dusty conditions, humidity, pollution or smoke hang in the air longer on hot days.

Dr Elekiaby recommended that forecasters give health warnings with weather bulletins to help asthma sufferers.

“Forecasters should inform people if it’s safe to go outdoors,” he said. “If your child is sick or you’re elderly and have a lung disease, then you should be told whether you can go out or not.”

Patients who have chronic lung diseases, emphysema, sinusitis and rhinitis are also affected by during dusty weather conditions, said the doctor.

arizvi2@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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