Traffic in Sharjah Industrial area during the dust haze. High levels of particulate matter accompanied by high temperatures and humidity is likely to prevail in the country until this afternoon. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Residents are being cautioned to stay indoors and avoid exposure to the heat, humidity and dusty spells as the weather pattern and low-visibility conditions are likely to persist until Monday afternoon and can trigger respiratory infections and allergies.

High levels of particulate matter — mainly sand — suspended in the atmosphere accompanied by high temperatures of 49 degree Celsius in some areas and humidity of up to 80 per cent is likely to prevail in the UAE until Monday afternoon, according to the forecast of the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS).

The dusty weather has been set off due to low-pressure areas created in the southern part of Saudi Arabia and Oman and the south easterly winds have carried the dust haze into the UAE. Light cloud formation is expected over Al Ain and Masafi, said an NCMS spokesperson. There is also the possibility of light mist formation by evening. If cloud formation occurs, cloud seeding may be carried out.

Dr Sanjay Kewalramani, Specialist ENT specialist from Medcare Hospital, Sharjah explained: “In summers, the number of cases of allergic rhinitis and asthma rise. The fine particles of dust suspended in the air contain silica, sand, grass pollen and fungal and bacterial pathogens. This triggers respiratory infections in those who already are prone to allergies and also in people who may have no previous history of allergies.”

In the UAE, one in five people suffer from allergic rhinitis. This is an allergic response in the upper respiratory tract, mainly the nose, with the mucosa getting irritated and triggering either running or blocked nasal pathways. It is also manifested by phlegm in the throat and watery eyes among other symptoms.

Dr Kewalramani added: “It is important for people to consult a doctor as these upper respiratory tract infections very quickly travel to the lower respiratory tract and the chest causing congestion, cough and wheezing.”

The humidity in the air makes the fungal and bacterial pathogens to multiply as well in the damp and warm air. “We try to contain the infection to the upper respiratory tract by prescribing antihistamines and also oral steroids to prevent the infection from spreading.”

Infants, children and adolescent kids are particularly susceptible to contracting allergies during such weather, said paediatrician Dr Telisha Fe Jagannathan from Medeor 24/7 Hospital, Al Ain. “During these months, I get a very high number of cases of children with skin allergies, respiratory allergies, asthma and other throat infections. Children usually are more susceptible to contracting airborne infections when sand, pollen and other pathogens are suspended in air,” said Dr Fe.

She advised parents to immediately consult a paediatrician on seeing symptoms of cough, cold, fever and allergies in their child. “It is advisable to keep children indoors during such dusty weather to reduce their exposure to the allergens,” she said.


Tips to keep respiratory allergies at bay

1) Use a sterile mask and sunglasses when outdoors to cover eyes, nose and mouth and prevent sand particles from affecting these sensory organs

2) Holding a damp cloth to the nose and mouth can also help

3) Clean the nasal mucosa often in the day by irrigating the nasal passage with a saline solution that will dislodge bacterial and fungal pathogens and prevent them from multiplying

4It is important to keep homes dust-free. One must avoid heavy carpets and curtains during summers since they could prove to be dust traps. Vacuum cleaning and washing such items regularly also helps.

5) Avoid giving kids stuffed animal toys, which again trap dust.

6) Have heavy doses of vitamin C as a preventive step to ward of respiratory infections.