As the pollen count rises during spring and autumn, sufferers of respiratory conditions such as asthma in Kuwait are advised to take caution when they go outside, according to local doctor, Professor Mousa Khadadah.
Respiratory conditions such as allergic rhinitis, acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and bronchial asthma are common in Kuwait. According to Dr. Khadadah, Professor of Medicine at Kuwait University, currently figures suggest that one in seven adults (15 percent) and approximately 16 percent of children are diagnosed with asthma.
“Notably, asthma and allergic rhinitis increase during pollen season in Kuwait, as well as in dusty and humid weather. Thunder storms as well have been documented to steeply increase the acute exacerbation of such conditions,” Dr. Khadadah said.
Sandstorms are common in Kuwait’s tropical desert climate and can prove hazardous for asthma sufferers when there are high levels of pollen in the air, typically from February to April, and between September and October. Increased winds can cause huge amounts of dust in the air which can carry irritants such as, bacteria, viruses, airborne pollens as well as agricultural fertilizers and pesticides.
In Kuwait, asthma and other children’s respiratory illnesses have been known to be more common following a dust storm, as high winds spread pollens and irritants, increasing cases of patients experiencing respiratory problems.
“When the weather is cooler, we all enjoy making the most of the pleasant conditions. There are many health benefits to leading an active lifestyle and spending time outdoors but patients with respiratory conditions such as asthma are advised to take caution on windy days, particularly during a sandstorm,” said Dr. Ahmed El Hakim, Senior Advisor, Cinfa.
“Allergens such as airborne pollens tend to spread on windier days which can trigger an asthma attack. The common cold and flu virus can also worsen asthmatic symptoms. Sufferers should try to avoid catching these illnesses in the colder months when they are more prevalent, and continue to follow the course of treatment prescribed by their doctor,” Dr. El Hakim added.
About the pathology
Asthma is a long-term respiratory condition caused by inflammation of the small tubes, called bronchi, which carry air in and out of the lungs. Symptoms vary in severity from person to person and can include coughing, wheezing, breathlessness and tightness of the chest. When an asthma sufferer’s lungs come into contact with irritants, known as triggers, symptoms can get gradually or suddenly worse before an asthma attack occurs. The most common triggers of asthma in Kuwait are upper respiratory tract infections, dust, humidity and pollen.
While asthma is chronic condition that cannot be cured, appropriate management is available to alleviate symptoms when they occur. Sufferers are advised to follow prescribed courses of medication and to avoid allergens that could trigger their condition.
There are two types of treatments for asthma: medication to help relieve symptoms during an attack by relaxing the muscles around the constricted airways, and preventative medication that reduces inflammation and sensitivity of the airway to reduce the chances of an asthma attacks occurring.
Long-term treatments may include a course of steroids, which work quickly and powerfully to help calm inflamed airways. Using an inhaler is the most common way of taking asthma medication as it takes the medicine directly into the patient’s lungs, and inhalers can be used to deliver either preventative treatment or relief. It is very important that asthma sufferers know how to use their inhalers correctly; medical staff should always demonstrate and explain how to use them to patients.
Cinfa, which launched in Kuwait last month, has a long track record of providing affordable, accessible care across many therapeutic areas including respiratory, cardiovascular and anti-infectives.