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Wed 17 Mar 2010 12:59 PM

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More green spaces blamed for rise in UAE hay fever

New research finds one third of adults now suffer from the condition.

More people across the UAE are likely to suffer from hay fever due to an increase in the number of green spaces, the latest medical research has suggested.

A study by UAE University found that more than one third of adults across the emirates suffer from allergic rhinitis, a condition more commonly known as hay fever.

Dr Shirina Alsowaidi, assistant professor of allergy and immunology in internal medicine at the university, said the pollen-linked disease was now far more common than previously predicted.

“Such massive environmental changes, though appreciable, may have had a huge adverse impact on the prevalence of allergic diseases, especially allergic rhinitis, with the introduction of thousands of new plants and trees that were never seen in the UAE until a decade ago,” she said.

The study, published in the February issue of the journal Allergy, is the first-of-its-kind conducted in the country. Its findings were released on the first day of the International Gulf Thoracic 2010 conference in Abu Dhabi.

Alsowaidi said the research was carried out in Al Ain but the results could be applied to the rest of the emirates.

“The findings can be used as an indicator of the overall prevalence of allergic rhinitis across the UAE. Due to the pollution that exists in Dubai and Abu Dhabi there could be even more people suffering from allergic rhinitis symptoms in those cities, because the dust acts as an irritant,” Alsowaidi explained.   

Preliminary findings of research into chronic respiratory diseases, like allergic rhinitis and asthma, by the University of Sharjah are set to be released in May.

Dr Bassam Mahboub, associate professor of the medical faculty said the survey of up to 1,500 UAE residents would “fill a large gap in knowledge about the prevalence of chronic respiratory diseases” as well as determining the prevalence of smoking.

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O.E.P 10 years ago

I suffer from Allergic Rhinitis [was diagnosed before i moved to the UAE]. However, ive found that my situation has worsened while I have been living here. Believe you me i come from a place much greener and with a lot more species of green than found out here. I find that what aggravates my sinuses the most, is constant exposure to AC which blows all sorts [probably lots of dust]. I actually think the green spaces do a lot more to help...does us some good to have the trees making some oxygen, all we ever breathe in is dust or car fumes. I say, "Give us more trees!"

ross 10 years ago

There are very few 'green' areas generating pollen - so I doubt the report is valid. I suffer hay feaver badly in the UK - but no issues in Dubai. I think sand dust and other pollution along with A/C not regularly serviced is more likely the cause.

CFO 10 years ago

That' is good move to start with : identifying health risks in UAE. I wish good analysis of facts could prevail, instead of postulating ideas. Start cleaning the Air conditioning equipment and tell us the result!