Since my column going up in a few hours is on the same topic, I took a particular interest in this story from the state-run China Daily.
Come with the wind
By Ye Jun (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-21 09:03
In the past two weeks, Beijing has witnessed some of the capital’s worst spring weather in history. Chilly days follow hot days, rain comes after wind, and the bad weather climaxed on Sunday night, when yellow dust covered the city overnight.
Reports from different departments at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital show that patient inflow increased a great deal. The abnormal weather has led to many problems, especially with eyes, nose, throat and skin. Meanwhile, old people, infants, pregnant women, and people with chronic problems such as cardiovascular disorders should keep warm to prevent problems brought on by the strong wind.
At the hospital, the Respiratory, Paediatrics and E.N.T departments witnessed a sharp increase in the number of old and very young patients, while a great deal of white-collar workers were suffering with rhinitis and pharyngitis.
“The nasal cavity has a certain filtering function, but there is too much dirt in the air on sandstorm days, which can exacerbate respiratory illness and allergies, and cause coughing or shortness of breath,” said Su Nan, doctor of the Respiratory Department. “Among the old and the weak, respiratory problems can develop into pneumonia and other heart and lung problems.”
Patient inflow increased 20 per cent in Su’s department, with many coming with allergic rhinitis, acute rhinitis, throat inflammation or asthma.
“With the warming of the weather, pathogens have become more active,” explained Yang Dazhang, another doctor at the department. “When it comes to windy weather, dust in the air carries a lot of alien objects and pathogenic bacteria, which can enter the body, leading to running nose, nasal itching and sneezing.”
If dust enters the body by way of mouth it can lead to throat problems, and sometimes even inflammation in the ears.
Yang suggests wearing facemasks, scarves or caps to keep warm. Yang also suggests avoiding crowded places due to the increase in respiratory infections of late.
The Paediatric Department’s statistics show that patient inflow was up 48.5 per cent in late March and early April compared with the same period last year.
Meanwhile the Ophthalmology Department warns people to watch for conjunctivitis and be careful with wearing contact lenses.
“When dirt or alien objects get into the eyes, do not use the hands to rub them as this can injure the eyes, leading to pain, blurred vision, or even keratitis,” revealed Chen Shu, a doctor with the department.
Chen suggests dealing with it in a place without wind. Some dirt can flow out with tears, so try blinking, or lifting the eyelid gently and swinging it to increase tear secretion. If that doesn’t work then seek medical help.
The doctor also suggests wearing glasses instead of contact lens on windy and dusty days, because, dirt can stabilize on the lens and lead to inflammation.
Beijing’s windy days also lead to dryness of the skin, roughening, reddening, or even cracking, according to Wang Chen, director of the Dermatology Department. If those conditions persist, bacteria can get into the pores and cause inflammation, spots or itchiness. People with allergic tendencies might develop allergic dermatitis.
Wang suggests wearing facemasks, or shielding the head with a gauze scarf when going outdoors. Once indoors, you should wash the face and keep the skin clean. People can also put on simple and mild skin-protecting cosmetics to help keep the skin moist, so that it does not crack. For women who often use make up, do not wear heavy or colourful makeup during windy and dusty days. If wind borne particles blend with cosmetics, they can have a chemical reaction affecting the skin. In these cases the skin reddens, itches or develops rashes, people should consult a dermatologist before applying medicines.