Medical experts convene in UAE to address rising allergy rates in Middle East
WAM DUBAI, 29th September, 2013 (WAM) -- Leading allergy experts from across the region, including ear, nose and throat specialists and pharmacists, have met in Dubai to discuss the rising prevalence of allergies in the region and underscore the most effective treatment practices for differing levels of suffering, as well as varying diagnostic approaches.
Nearly 400 million people worldwide are affected by allergies. Two common forms of allergies, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis, are often triggered by dust, sand or mold, all of which are extremely common in the dry, desert climate found in the UAE. One third of adults in the UAE suffer from allergic rhinitis, which causes nasal blockage, sneezing, runny nose, and irritation.
Allergic conjunctivitis, or inflammation of the tissue lining the eyes, is often characterised by red, itchy or burning eyes and puffy eyelids, and continues to be an increasing burden worldwide. Research conducted in the region by the UAE University, Al Ain, found that children are more likely to suffer from allergies if one or both parents have allergies, and that individuals of Arab origin are at greater risk for the condition.
Dr. Bassam Mahboub, President of the Emirates Allergy and Respiratory Society and Head of the Respiratory and Allergy Unit at Rashid Hospital, Dubai Health Authority, who took part in the advisory council, said, "Investment in health education for both allergy sufferers and healthcare professionals is critical. People often do not realise their symptoms are allergy related and this is a major barrier preventing patients from receiving proper diagnosis and treatment. Our goal as medical professionals is to not only raise awareness of allergy symptoms, and how they may differ from the common cold or flu, but to educate our patients on the treatment options that are available over the counter in pharmacies, including topical antihistamines." According to Dr. Mahboub, allergies can greatly diminish quality of life, with almost half of all allergy sufferers unable to tolerate their symptoms. "Research has shown that allergies can affect academic performance and work productivity by as much as 27 percent. Many sufferers are unaware that a wide range of effective and long acting treatments are available. Healthcare professionals should be familiar with available treatment to ensure optimal patient outcomes. This is especially important given the rising prevalence of allergies in the region." The medical advisory council featured a full day of interactive sessions, roundtable discussions and workshops, where attendees discussed clinical updates as well as their perception and understanding of various anti-allergy treatments. The one day event, sponsored by Johnson and Johnson, provided a unique platform for experts to consult on how they can improve patient outcomes throughout the region, by raising awareness of symptoms and the various treatment options available in the UAE. A report on the findings of the advisory council is expected to be published in early 2014.