By Mohamed Samir, Regional Medical Director, Mundipharma, Middle East & Africa Region
Asthma awareness is crucial when living in the GCC, especially when we live in a climate which has significant environmental triggers such as sandstorms. Several studies conducted in the Arabian Peninsula countries with a high rate of sandstorms, confirmed the increased prevalence of asthma in those countries. It was also reported that sandstorms frequently cause adverse health effects on the respiratory function and just 15 minutes exposure to smaller-size sandstorm dust particles have a greater potential of asthma. Asthma requires long term treatment; however can be managed if precaution is taken to reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Knowing how to control your Asthma during sandstorms, can provide Asthmatics with a better quality of life. Mohamed Samir, Regional Medical Director at Munidpharma shares with us six health and safety tips to survive this sandstorm season:
1) Stay Indoors – Stay indoors as much as possible during sandstorms and keep windows and doors closed. Reduce exposure to common allergens during the sandstorms that may provoke asthmatic attacks.
2) Check weather and pollution forecasts – It is recommended that Asthmatics regularly check daily weather and air quality reports, especially during the sandstorm season. Tuning in to your local weather station can help you plan ahead and manage daily activities.
3) Clean air conditioner vents – Living in a hot climate country means we are indoors more often and use air-conditioning regularly. Dust collection in air conditioning vents can be a harmful trigger if not cleaned and checked regularly. Air conditioning units need to regularly maintained and cleaned every six months to avoid accumulation of dust in ducts and vents.
4) Use an air-purifier – Sandstorms affect allergy and asthma sufferers the most. An air purifier can help reduce indoor pollution and help you breathe better. Although air purifiers are by no means a cure for asthma, they help to remove the allergens and particles which can trigger symptoms by directing air through a filter. If you are asthmatic, an air purifier can help you breathe more easily by improving indoor air quality.
5) Consider wearing a face mask if your outdoors – Consider wearing a medical face mask or use a wet towel during sandstorms to prevent inhaling the dust particles. Do not forget to regularly change face masks.
6) Stay hydrated- Fluids, especially water are just as important during sandstorms. Remember to keep hydrated or even spray water on face and eyes if you come in direct contact with dust.