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Sandstorm season in the Gulf region brings increasing risk of serious allergic reactions
June 1, 2014, 2:26 pm

As part of its program to educate local and regional communities on key health problems, MSD refocused its campaign on the ill health effects of sandstorms to emphasize the causes and symptoms of allergic rhinitis – through its newly launched ‘Assess Your Nose’ campaign.

The purpose of the campaign is to educate Kuwaiti citizens and residents on how best to protect themselves against the effects of sandstorms and how to determine whether their congestion is due to allergic rhinitis through MSD’s ‘Assess Your Nose campaign.’ Congestion is a symptom of both allergic rhinitis and the common cold; not receiving proper treatment for allergic rhinitis can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

Worldwide, allergic rhinitis affects around 400 million people, with higher prevalence in industrialized nations. In a recent study carried out among school children in Kuwait, the prevalence of allergic rhinitis was reported at 22.2%.

MazenAltaruti, Managing Director of MSD Gulf said: “In our region, sandstorms are prevalent especially during this time of year. This weather phenomenon has a severe impact on traffic, places of work and schools. While we usually consider how they affect our day to day lives, one thing that we are less aware of is the wide variety of pollutants within sandstorms that can cause severe allergic reactions, such as the condition- allergic rhinitis.  Through this campaign, we aim to educate the Kuwaiti public on how to determine whether they have allergic rhinitis, so that they can receive accurate treatment of their condition and safeguard their quality of life and health. MSD is committed to addressing the health issues faced by local communities and in the context of Kuwait sandstorms are an ongoing and important problem.”

The speed and range of sandstorms mean that they have the capacity to carry a large number of allergens that include bacteria, fungi, dust and pollen. A common problem in the region is misdiagnosis of the respiratory illnesses linked to sandstorms.

Dr. Ali Al Enezi, MD, FRCPC ABIM, Allergy and Immunology Consultant, Al Rashid Allergy and Respiratory Centre, explained allergic rhinitis in Kuwait and how to differentiate between the condition and common colds: “Addressing this illness in Kuwait is of paramount importance as this is something that effects the entire population. Ensuring understanding of the condition will also help to curtail longer absences from work and decreased productivity in addition to avoiding more serious conditions that can arise from lack of proper attention. The aim of our ongoing campaign is to educate patients on the health risks from sandstorms, and to provide better information for medical professionals to diagnose respiratory and allergy-induced problems accurately. Accurate diagnosis relies upon differentiating between congestion as a result of allergic rhinitis versus a common cold. Highlighting the urgency of receiving proper treatment for allergic rhinitis will help to avoid any negative impact on the person’s quality of life.”

Sandstorms are caused by a confluence of particles that are carried by turbulent and strong winds to a higher altitude. They severely affect horizontal visibility. There are a variety of causes that contribute to dust eruption, dust transportation and dusts rising locally; prevailing winds move the dust south-east, towards the Gulf. Sandstorm peak season is from May and September in the Gulf region.





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