People urged to take precautions in dust storms

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Daisy

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has advised residents to continue to take basic health and safety precautions as dusty and windy conditions have returned to the country.
Dust storms, which herald the transition to summer in Qatar, pose health hazards such as sinus allergies and respiratory infections.
On Monday, Hamad General Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) received around 12 cases with ailments related to the dusty weather including respiratory problems, which are normally aggravated due to dust.
Despite the new round of windy and dusty conditions, HMC’s Pediatric Emergency Centers (PECs) also did not see any significant increase in number of cases related to respiratory diseases among young children due to the sandstorm as compared to previous ones because most schools are currently on spring break, according to Dr Mohamed al-Amri, Consultant at PEC Al Sadd.
He also said that increased awareness of precautions in the wider community has considerably reduced the possible effects of the dust storm on people’s health.
“We didn’t notice any recorded increase in the number of PEC visitors during this recent dust storm. The total number of children who visited all five PECs in Al Sadd, Al Rayyan, Airport, Al Shamal and Al Daayen yesterday was about 1370 patients,” said Dr al-Amri.
However, Dr al -Amri advised residents to keep their children indoors and only allow them to go out if it is absolutely necessary, particularly to open places such as public parks, resorts and beaches, and to ensure that doors and windows are securely closed. This is in addition to the use of face masks as necessary during the current conditions
He further encouraged the use of nebulisers and bronchial dilatators directly after the onset of asthma symptoms, adding that for persistent coughs, patient should visit the nearest healthcare centre.
Dust consists of tiny solid particles floating in the air, which can get past the lungs’ natural defences and harm sensitive lung tissue. Fine particles of dust can irritate the lungs and trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks, and prolonged exposure to airborne dust can cause chronic breathing and lung problems, as well as heart disease.
HMC recommends people take the following precautions during dusty weather:
1) Avoid going outside, especially during high winds or low visibility when the dust levels are particularly harmful. If unavoidable, spend as little time outside as possible, and avoid doing outdoor exercise. Keep your windows and doors closed.
2) Cover your nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth to reduce inhalation of particles of dust when going out.
3) When driving, keep the car’s windows closed, and opt for air conditioning instead of fresh air.
4) Avoid rubbing your eyes in order to prevent eye infection, which is common during this season. Wear protective gear such as airtight goggles. If your eyes become irritated, rinse with water. Be especially careful if you wear contact lenses.
5) During hot weather, always carry a supply of water to keep from being dehydrated.
6) People who are prone to bad allergies should start using their antihistamines during this season, even before the symptoms start.
People at high risk of contracting respiratory infection including infants and young children, the elderly, people with a history of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or other respiratory conditions, people with heart disease, pregnant women and people who have to work outdoors, such as construction or delivery workers. Those with chronic conditions should see their doctors as soon as possible if an infection occurs.