Winter is approaching and the weather is increasingly unstable. Even the summer can be a whirlwind of changeable conditions, heat, and humidity. It’s no wonder that allergies are common here in Qatar, developing at the slightest dust storm. We spoke with Dr. Ahmed Hegazy, a pharmacist at Kulud Pharmacy, to learn about the two main allergies encountered in Qatar, and how you can protect yourself.
What are Allergies?
Allergies are caused by the immune system reacting to a foreign material that comes into contact with the body, or is inhaled or ingested. Reactions include sneezing, wheezing, coughing, itching, skin rashes, stomach pain, diarrhea, or even a drop in blood pressure, which can cause dizziness or fainting.
The most common allergy found in Qatar is chest allergy. This can be caused by multiple factors, ranging from dust in the atmosphere to genetic disorders. Everyone here knows that dust is a huge problem when it comes to our health. We tend to stay indoors when a storm is coming or there is wind moving the dust and sand on the ground. Because Qatar is a flat desert country, there aren’t many natural trees or hills to break the wind and protect us from the sand.
Chest allergies are often caused by dust mites, which are little creatures that live in the dust in your house. Dust itself is a mixture of materials like tiny fibers, particles of food, plant material, insect parts, pet feathers and hairs, and fungus and mold. Add all this to the dust mites and their waste, which is 200 times the dust mite’s body weight and an allergen, and you have a perfect trigger for an allergic reaction.
While dust and filth are the main factors behind chest allergies, they aren’t the only ones. Hereditary conditions like asthma can also trigger these allergies, especially in dusty weather. Mutated lungs, respiratory infections and breathing problems also cause chest allergies.
Eczema is a rash-like skin condition that can be chronic in some cases. The word “eczema” refers to the most common skin condition, atopic dermatitis. Atopic refers to a collection of immune-mediated diseases that include asthma and hay fever, which can be inherited. However, “eczema” is a term given to any superficial inflammatory response that appears on the skin. If there are signs of redness, itching, weeping, oozing, crusting, or scaling and pigmentation, the chances are you have eczema.
There are many types of eczema, and as many possible causes for this condition. A combination of hereditary and environmental factors can trigger an eczema flare-up. Some soaps, detergents, shampoos, foods, dust mites, pollen, mold, hot weather, perspiration and heat, dairy products, soy products, nuts and seeds are just some on the long list of eczema triggers.
Now that you know a little more about allergies, you might wonder how you can protect yourself from them. Here are 10 tips to help you keep your allergies under control this season.
- Frequently wash your face, mouth, and nose with clean water.
- If you go out in a storm or high winds, wear a protective mask or cover your nose with moist tissues to prevent dust from entering your lungs.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes, especially during or after you feel irritation. Your lashes are designed to protect your eyes.
- Try prescribed antihistamines if you are vulnerable to allergies.
- Dust mites gather in bedding, mattresses and furniture: make sure you vacuum or dust these along with the counter tops and shelves.
- Place air-tight plastic covers on your pillows and mattresses before you put on the sheets. This will help prevent dust mites from entering your furniture for a longer period of time.
- Wash your bedding in very hot water to make sure all dust and bacteria is killed.
- Use a humidifier or put your AC on low humidity to keep your air fresh and damp.
- Wash drapes and curtains regularly as they collect a lot of dust from holes or gaps in windows.
- Report to the emergency room if your breathing becomes difficult, you experience constant coughing or have an asthma attack.
There you have it: protecting yourself from common allergies can be a tough job, but it’s even tougher to have respiratory diseases and trouble living your life. Follow these steps and live a happier, healthier, allergy-free life!