Asthma awareness is crucial when we live in a climate that has significant environmental triggers such as sandstorms, a common occurrence in Oman.
Several studies carried out in GCC countries with a high rate of sandstorms have confirmed the increased prevalence of asthma. It has also been reported that sandstorms frequently cause adverse health effects on the respiratory function. Just 15 minutes of exposure to smaller-size sandstorm dust particles carry a substantial risk of asthma.
The condition requires long-term treatment. However, it can be managed if precautions are taken to reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Knowing how to control your asthma during sandstorms can provide sufferers with a better quality of life. Mohamed Samir, regional medical director at Mundipharma Medical Company, shares six health and safety tips to survive the sandstorm season:
1. Stay Indoors: Stay indoors as much as possible during sandstorms and keep windows and doors closed. Reduce exposure to common allergens during the sandstorms that may provoke asthmatic attacks.
2. Check weather and pollution forecasts: Asthmatics should regularly check daily weather and air quality reports, especially during the sandstorm season. Tuning in to your local weather station can help you plan ahead and manage daily activities.
3. Clean air conditioner vents: Living in a hot climate means we are indoors more often and use air conditioning regularly. Dust collection in air conditioning vents can be a harmful trigger if they are not cleaned and checked regularly. Air conditioning units need to be regularly maintained and cleaned every six months to avoid accumulation of dust in ducts and vents.
4. Use an air-purifier: Sandstorms affect allergy and asthma sufferers the most. An air purifier can help reduce indoor pollution and help you breathe more easily. Although air purifiers are by no means a cure for asthma, they can help to remove the allergens and particles that can trigger symptoms by directing air through a filter. If you are asthmatic, an air purifier can help you breathe more easily by improving indoor air quality.
5. Consider wearing a face mask outdoors: Consider wearing a medical face mask or use a wet towel during sandstorms to prevent inhaling the dust particles. Do not forget to regularly change face masks.
6. Stay hydrated: Fluids, especially water, are just as important during sandstorms. Remember to keep hydrated or even spray water on the face and eyes if you come into direct contact with dust.