x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Breathing complaints spike in dusty weather, doctor says

The recent increase of dust in the air has caused a rise in the number of respiratory complaints, a specialist says.

The dusty weather across the UAE has caused a spike in respiratory complaints, a leading specialist said today.

Dr Mirza Al Sayegh, president of the Emirates Allergy and Respiratory Society, said the suspended dust in the air is causing problems for people who already have respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Although there are no precise figures on the number of doctor's visits, Dr Al Sayegh estimated that respiratory specialists are seeing between two and three times as many patients now, compared to the average in fair weather.

Heavy smokers can also be affected, but the dust storms are unlikely to affect those who are healthy, he said.

"It is mainly people already suffering from disease that are experiencing problems," he said.

Dr Al Sayegh advised those with a history of serious respiratory problems to remain indoors or even postpone work for a day or two if the weather is especially dusty.

"Stay at home and close all windows to avoid dust coming in," he said.

An asthma attack and subsequent treatment can take up to a week, and therefore prevention is a more efficient means of handling the situation, he said. People with complaints should contact their doctors or the respiratory society for more advice, he said.

Such advice would apply throughout the remainder of this month and in the first ten days of April, when dust storms, wind and sharp spikes and drops in temperature are common.

"This transition period between winter and summer is marked by fluctuations of the weather," said a scientist with the Abu-Dhabi based, National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology.

The dust, carried by winds from the south of Iran and Pakistan, caused visibility to drop to 200 metres in some parts of the Emirates. The dust is expected to begin clearing on Thursday. The weather that day will be mostly sunny, with clouds forming over some offshore islands and in the northern parts of the country.

Over the weekend, temperatures are expected to gradually rise, reaching as high as 37°C in the interior of the country and between 28°C and 34°C in coastal areas.

However, it is too early now to say goodbye to winter as the chance for clouds, temperature drops and more dusty winds will remain until about April 10, according to the meteorology centre.

vtodorova@thenational.ae