This month, the UAE’s sweltering summer heat has been accompanied by sandstorms and ambient dust in the air, and doctors are therefore cautioning residents with allergies to take adequate precautions.
In addition to staying inside as much as possible during sandstorms, residents who suffer from allergies can benefit from keeping their homes dust-free and using air purifiers with high-efficiency filters.
Allergies should be treated to prevent the development of more severe conditions like asthma, especially as they can build up over time, said Dr Ali Akbar, a dermatologist at the Canadian Specialist Hospital in Dubai.
According to recent reports, one-fifth of the UAE population suffers from allergies, and specialists suspect that the number is constantly on the rise. During the summer months, allergic rhinitis, which is triggered by dust and mold in the air, tends to become a common complaint.
In patients, the immune system perceives a generally harmless substance like dust, mold or pollen to be foreign and dangerous, and produces antibodies to attack it. This leads to the commonly seen allergic symptoms.
People with severe allergies can develop intense symptoms, such as abnormal and difficult breathing, chest tightness, anxiety, swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue, and an elevated heart rate. In turn, these symptoms can lead to loss of consciousness, or become life-threatening.
“If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to consult your physician immediately,” Dr Akbar advised.
Doctors also advise that residents cover their nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth when going outside in order to reduce exposure to dust particles.
In addition, a blood test or skin prick test is recommended to determine exactly what a patient is allergic to.
“[At any rate], once the allergen causing the allergy is determined using medical tests and an analysis of family history, medication can be prescribed to control the symptoms for a patient,” Dr Akbar added.