With another wave of dust storms expected from today, the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has advised people to take necessary precautions.
Dust storms pose health hazards such as sinus allergies and respiratory infections.
The Emergency Department at HMC received about 40 patients with ailments related to dusty weather on Friday and Saturday alone, said Dr Ankush Pathare, emergency physician at the department.
Dust consists of tiny solid particles floating in the air, which can defeat 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, he added.
Dr Pathare said those who develop symptoms of allergies such as watering of the eyes, cough, wheezing or asthma can go to their primary healthcare centres (PHCs).
“Those who have severe trouble breathing, or start coughing green sputum, might have a lung infection and should go to the Emergency Department,” he added.
People living away from the city, where there is no structure or building to break down the dust and reflect the sunlight, are advised to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary
Dr Pathare has recommended the following precautions during dust storms:
m 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.
m Cover your nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth to reduce inhalation of particles of dust when going out.
m When driving, keep the car’s windows closed, and opt for air conditioning instead of fresh air.
m Avoid rubbing your eyes 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.
m During hot weather, always carry a supply of water to keep from being dehydrated.
m 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 include 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.
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