Cooler UAE weather to blame for spike in cold-like symptoms, doctor says
DUBAI // Heavy rain, cool temperatures, dust and sandstorms are doubling the number of people seeking medical treatment for respiratory infections and allergic symptoms.
Doctors have reported a steep rise in patients complaining of respiratory problems as the poor weather persists.
“We are seeing double the number of patients at the moment, and we are putting that down to the weather,” said Dr Sanjay Kewalramani, an ear nose and throat surgeon at Medcare Sharjah Hospital.
“It is a persisting problem at present, mainly due to the storms. Treatment is fairly straightforward and we can offer nasal sprays if the patient is having difficulty breathing, or snoring at night.
“If they have irritable eyes, it may be a problem with the air conditioning, so we advise that is checked out as a precaution. The ducts can be a very good conduit for pollen, dust and viruses.
“Anyone working outdoors is also more at risk while the poor weather continues. They should try to cover their nose and mouth when they can.”
Allergic rhinitis is one of the major complaints. It is caused by allergens such as dust, plant and grass pollens.
Fungi that travel in sandstorms can cause people to suffer from a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion.
It can also trigger asthma attacks among people who do not normally suffer them, with a growing number of people experiencing symptoms.
Sandstorms also cause bacterial and viral infection, particularly among those with weaker immune systems, such as children and the elderly. Those with immune systems that are compromised through other disorders are also more vulnerable.
Persistent rhinitis, which is irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose, is common.
It can affect anyone of any age, although it affects adults more than children. It is becoming increasingly common in older people.
Research published in the 2014 World Allergy Organisation Journal revealed symptoms of allergic rhinitis were present in 7 per cent of people in the UAE.
Winter was the peak season for those affected, with 71 per cent of patients having environmental triggers that went untreated.
Allergies from sandstorms can be treated with antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays.
The World Research Institute’s Aqueduct report warned that drought and sandstorms would likely become more common in the region, with dust storms and heavier rainfall predicted as effects of climate change.
Dr Rohit Gulati, an ear, nose and throat specialist at International Modern Hospital in Dubai, said that similar symptoms were set off in summer, when people often went from the heat into air-conditioning.
“There is a clear distinction between rhinitis and allergic rhinitis, which can be triggered from a reaction to the environment,” Dr Gulati said.
“Asthmatics are particularly vulnerable but it is easily treated in most patients.”
Published: March 28, 2017 04:00 AM