Over 14 per cent people in the UAE suffer from asthma and Rashid Hospital alone attends to 1,500 asthma patients annually of which at least 500 are cases involve severe asthma. Dr Shahid Afzal, pulmonologist from Rashid Hospital highlighted this quoting a Middle East study, during the weekly Smart Clinic organised by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA)

Asthma is a condition in which the airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance, while for others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.

Afzal added: “Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled so that eventually the patient can reduce the number of medicines he takes and can lead an active life. Our aim is to ensure a patient’s quality of life is not compromised due to the illness. This is possible only if the patient is aware of the triggers and avoids those triggers and takes proper medication as advised by the doctor. It is important patients regularly follow-up with their doctor so that they can track their signs and symptoms and adjust treatment accordingly.”

Dr Premnath Kannada, pulmonologist at Rashid Hospital said misdiagnosis of allergies is a major problem because studies point that when allergies are not properly treated and diagnosed, they can lead to asthma. “Almost 60 to 80 per cent of asthma patients have allergic rhinitis. Both diseases have to be treated together for better control of asthma.”

Dr Hussain Talib Shabaan, ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant at Dubai Hospital said: “Many of our patients with allergies come to us much later when their condition has worsened. They normally assume they have cold and cough and continue taking over-the-counter medications for an extended period of time. Our message is that if people suffer from recurrent colds and coughs, excessive phlegm etc they should visit an ENT specialist, who can then refer them to a pulmonologist if need be.”

Dr Eyad Hamadi, ENT consultant at Dubai Hospital, said: “Diagnosing allergies early on, especially in children, will prevent recurrent hospital visits and will ensure the patient’s condition does not deteriorate further.”

People with asthma and allergies should stay away or try to minimise triggers such as perfumes, pollen, dust etc. They should ensure that the ducts of the air-conditioning are cleaned regularly to avoid accumulation of dust and some fungal allergens.