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Pulmonologists discuss importance of early detection of respiratory diseases during DHA's smart clinic

Thursday, April 23, 2015/ Editor -  


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Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 23, 2015: Pulmonologists from the DHA-run Rashid Hospital have highlighted the importance of early diagnosis for effective management of respiratory disorders.

Information was disseminated via DHA’s #smart_clinic to more than 69,000 followers of the DHA page( DHA_Dubai) on Twitter.

Dr Bassam Mahboub, consultant, head of Rashid Hospital’s pulmonology unit, said: “The prevalence of allergies is higher in the GCC region as compared to other parts of the world. Allergies include skin, eye, nose and airway allergy.  More than 20 percent of students in UAE have some sort of allergy. This is due to congenital predisposition, environmental changes due to fast urbanisation, exposure to junk food, food preservatives and food colouring.”

Mahboub said that allergic rhinitis is the most common trigger for asthma.
About 8.5 to 10 per cent of adults and almost 15 per cent of children
In UAE are asthmatic and about 20 per cent of adults and 30 per cent of children have allergic rhinitis.

Bronchial asthma is chronic airflow inflammation characterised by recurrent respiratory symptoms like cough, chest tightness, wheezing. It is associated with airway hyper responsiveness that causes narrowing of airways when the person is exposed to allergens like perfumes, dust mites etc.

Mahboub said that if nasal allergies are not diagnosed early on it can cause asthma at a later stage.

“Nasal allergies are often mistaken for common cold and cough. Patients with symptoms such as runny nose and cough normally continue to take over-the-counter medications for weeks or even months together without addressing the root cause.”

Mahboub said: “In children it is absolutely essential to diagnose asthma early on to avoid sub-optimal development of the lung and in adults late diagnosis means asthma can become chronic and cause permanent narrowing of airways. Therefore, it is important for those who have persistent or recurring coughs and colds to get an allergy test done.”

He said allergy tests include blood, skin and breathing test to confirm the diagnosis and to know what triggers an allergy.

Dr Basil Saffarini, senior specialist pulmonologist at Rashid Hospital, said: “House dust mites, moulds, cockroach, bakhoor and other scents ( incense), strong perfumes, cooking vapours and exposure to chemical fumes are the most common allergens. Viral infection can also trigger asthma and in people who have a genetic predisposition to asthma it can induce asthma.”

Saffarini said some diseases mimic the symptoms of asthma but are not asthma. “In children, these include viral bronchiolitis, cystic fibrosis, foreign body inhalation and wax in ears which can lead to chronic cough. Therefore, proper diagnosis is essential to ensure children are not unnecessarily put onto asthma medications. In adults, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, vocal cord dysfunction, central cord airway mass (benign or malignant) mimic the symptoms of asthma.”

Presently the pulmonology department of Rashid Hospital is conducting a research to understand the link between vitamin D deficiency and asthma. The results of the study are expected to be published in September 2015.

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