Dubai, UAE: More than 20 per cent of students in the UAE have some sort of allergy, said Dr Bassam Mahboub, Consultant and Head of the Pulmonology Unit at Rashid Hospital.
Pulmonologists from Rashid Hospital, run by the Dubai Health Authority, have discussed and highlighted the importance of early detection of respiratory disorders in order to manage them effectively. Mahboub emphasised that students develop these allergies due to various reasons such as congenital predisposition, environmental changes due to fast urbanisation, excessive junk food, and food preservatives and colouring.
“The prevalence of allergies is higher in the GCC region as compared to other parts of the world. Allergies include skin, eye, nose and airway allergies,” he said.
Mahboub added that allergic rhinitis, associated with an allergic inflammation in the nasal airways, is the most common trigger of asthma. In the UAE, around 8.5 per cent to 10 per cent of adults are asthmatic but a higher percentage in the younger generations is affected, with 15 per cent of children suffering from asthma.
Also, around 20 per cent of adults and 30 per cent of children have what is diagnosed at allergic rhinitis. Mahboub explained that late diagnosis of nasal allergies can cause asthma in later stages. Unfortunately, with late diagnosis or even misdiagnosis, the wrong medication is taken by the patient for weeks or even months without addressing the root cause, he said.
“In children it is absolutely essential to diagnose asthma early on to avoid suboptimal development of the lung and in adults late diagnosis means asthma can become chronic and cause permanent narrowing of airways,” said Mahboub.
In order to diagnose the problem, Mahboub mentioned that allergy tests include blood, skin and breathing tests to reveal certain triggers of the allergy. Additionally, Dr Basil Saffarini, Senior Specialist Pulmonologist at Rashid Hospital, said there are many causes for allergies that people are exposed to on a daily basis.
“House dust mites, moulds, cockroaches, bakhoor and other incense, strong perfumes, cooking vapours, and exposure to chemical fumes, viral infection can also trigger asthma and in people who have a genetic predisposition to asthma it can induce asthma,” said Saffarini.
He added that some diseases might mimic symptoms of asthma but do not necessarily transition to it in later stages. In children, viral bronchiolitis, cystic fibrosis, foreign body inhalation and wax in ears lead to chronic cough, a symptom misleading patients into thinking they have asthma.
“In adults, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis, vocal chord dysfunction, central cord airway mass (benign or malignant) mimic the symptoms of asthma,” added Saffarini.
Research is being conducted in the pulmonology department of Rashid Hospital to better understand the link between Vitamin D deficiency and asthma. Results of the study are expected to be published in September.
© Gulf NewsApr 2015