UAE Doctors Blame Humidity and Dust for Respiratory Problems Rise
Doctors in the UAE have attributed the rise in chest infections this summer to changes in the environment, with hot, dusty air mingling with high humidity. Additionally, exposure to poor air quality and an increase in vaping have also impacted the number of individuals seeking treatment for respiratory conditions in clinics.
Environmental Factors and Respiratory Conditions: The Summer Challenge in the UAE
Several hospitals have witnessed a surge in case numbers, particularly among those with chronic respiratory problems and allergies, who have been affected by the dusty and humid conditions. At Bareen International Hospital in Abu Dhabi, nearly half of the patients have reported some form of respiratory ailment, with bronchitis being a common complaint.
Challenging Weather Conditions and the Impact on Respiratory Health
Dr. Ahmed Raza, an internal medicine specialist at Bareen International Hospital, emphasized that the combination of dusty and humid weather poses challenges, especially for children and individuals with asthma. He noted an unusual increase in patients with chest infections, including bronchitis, which is typically seen during winter. Last week alone, almost half of the patients at the hospital sought treatment for respiratory problems, indicating a pattern. As temperatures soar close to 50°C and humidity reaches 100% at times, respiratory cases have worsened, prompting the Ministry of Health and Prevention to launch a campaign for safe working conditions in outdoor environments during the summer.
Bronchitis and Seasonal Variations: Allergies and Viral Infections
Bronchitis, characterized by airway inflammation leading to the lungs, can be triggered by environmental factors. While it is commonly caused by viral infections during winter, the summer months see an increase in cases associated with allergies. Dr. Trilok Chand, consultant and head of the department of respiratory medicine at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, explained that the change in weather has led to more acute bronchitis cases. Normally, 90% of cases during winter result from viral infections, whereas summer cases are often linked to allergies. Dr. Chand emphasized that persistent symptoms, particularly in young and older individuals, can develop into pneumonia if left untreated.
Risks and Treatment of Bronchitis: Pneumonia and Long-Term Impact
While most cases of bronchitis can be managed with anti-inflammatory inhalers, antibiotics are typically reserved for cases where a viral infection is present. Severe cases left untreated can progress to pneumonia, posing a greater risk for young children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing lung conditions. Pneumonia is a serious condition that can lead to hospitalization and months of recovery. Dr. Hardik Patel, a pulmonologist at NMC Royal Hospital in Dubai Investments Park, expressed surprise at the current surge in chest infections during an unexpected time of the year. He attributed it to the rising humidity and the transition from hot outdoor environments to air-conditioned interiors. Factors such as pre-existing conditions, vaping, and smoking can further exacerbate vulnerability to respiratory problems.
The Role of Environmental Factors: Vaping and Maintenance Practices
Dr. Patel highlighted that the increasing humidity and moving between hot and air-conditioned environments contribute to the current prevalence of bronchitis. Moreover, he emphasized that vaping and smoking can render individuals more susceptible to respiratory issues. Dr. Patel noted that the majority of bronchitis cases observed are attributable to the environment rather than viral infections. The condition can persist for extended periods, with increased vaping playing a significant role. Sharing vaping devices or inadequate cleaning of air-conditioning units at home can contribute to the prevalence of such conditions.