Due to high temperatures, humidity, and thick dust, the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) warned against asthma, the most prevalent disease in Qatar and the Gulf States.
“Asthma in the Gulf has some of its own factors, as studies indicate that genetic factors play a crucial role in worsening one’s health status, in addition to exposure to dust, air pollution, and smoking,” said Dr. Attia Ibrahim Muhammad, a General Practitioner and Pediatrician at PHCC’s Madinat Khalifa Health Center.
Asthma is also controlled by environmental factors or external stimuli, which leads to narrowing of the airways through contraction of muscle fiber, congestion, swelling, and inflammation of the cells lining the bronchi. Therefore, asthma is considered a chronic inflammatory disease.
Asthma can be allergic caused by external stimuli, such as bed bugs, pet fur, and some types of foods, or non-allergic caused by extreme sports and smoking, for example. There is also a type of asthma that children develop after the age of twelve due to obesity.
Patients with asthma suffer from shortness of breath, dry cough, wheezing, disrupt sleep, and absenteeism from school and work.
The disease can be diagnosed through a patient’s medical history and conducting some simple tests and a blood test, as well as an examination with a stethoscope.
Treatment of asthma include an inhaler device that can be used at home where asthmatic patients can use this cortisone-like medicine and bronchodilator, in addition to saline solution. The device is connected to a mask that is placed on the mouth and nose in controlled doses.
There is also a bronchodilator spray and a cortisone spray, separate or together in one spray, as a treatment for asthma. In addition to some tablets which enhance and support the function of the sprays.
In severe asthma cases where shortness of breath increases, corticosteroid tablets can be used for several days until feeling better, to later go back to the sprayers.
Knowing that asthma is a preventive disease, Dr. Attia said that it is important to avoid external stimuli that lead to asthma attacks.
Many external stimuli lead to asthma attacks, including animal and bird droppings, colds, house dust, smoke near factories and refineries, humid and hot weather, and some types of foods. Therefore, Dr. Muhammad stressed the importance of taking influenza vaccines and pneumococcal vaccines, available in all PHCC health centers.
Dr. Muhammad noted that asthmatic patients should take their doctor’s advice regarding the appropriate and best treatment according to their condition and medical history.
He also advised asthmatic patients to maintain an ideal weight, especially for children with asthma, stressing the importance of practicing appropriate sports, such as walking, and avoiding extreme sports, as well as quitting smoking and not exposing children and asthmatic patients to passive smoking. In addition to avoiding exposure to influencing external factors such as dust, insects, and pets, while following the doctor’s instructions and taking the prescribed medicine.