Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has advised the public to take necessary precautions as the Qatar Meteorology Department has forecast strong winds and poor visibility across most of the country due to sand and dust storms.
“Sand and dust storms could have adverse effects on health and could trigger sinus allergies and respiratory infections, especially in those with chronic diseases,"said Dr Yousuf al-Maslamani, medical director of Hamad General Hospital.
Those who suffer from diabetes, kidney diseases, and hypertension should see their doctor as soon as possible if an infection occurs due to sand or dust storm.
He said that while HMC’s Emergency Departments are fully prepared for all emergencies and have additional staff on standby, residents are urged to take basic health and safety precautions during sand or dust storms.
Dr al-Maslamani has advised taking precautions during inclement weather. People must avoid going outside, especially during high winds or low visibility when the dust levels are particularly harmful. They must spend as little time outside as possible and avoid doing outdoor exercise and keep the windows and doors closed.
They must cover nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth to reduce inhalation of particles of dust.When driving, keep the car windows closed. People must avoid rubbing eyes to prevent eye infections and wear protective gear such as airtight goggles. If eyes become irritated, rinse with water. Those with severe allergies are advised to use antihistamines before the onset of allergy symptoms.
Dr al-Maslamani highlighted that infants and young children, as well as the elderly, are at high risk of contracting a respiratory infection from airborne particles. According to him, others at risk include those with a history of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or other respiratory conditions. People with heart disease, pregnant women, and those who work outdoors, such as construction or delivery workers, are also at increased risk.
He said individuals who experience mild symptoms such as watering eyes, cough or wheezing should go to their primary health care centre while those who have severe breathing problem may have a lung infection and should go to the Emergency Department.
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