With the Qatar camping season now at its peak, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is urging the public, particularly those who have chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, to take precautions and consult their doctor before going camping.
Dr Yousef Al Tayeb, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at HMC’s Hamad General Hospital, says individuals who have chronic conditions that require medication should take enough supply of medicine with them before heading to the desert. He also recommends eating a balanced diet and says healthy eating and adherence to medication regimes are important factors for guarding against many of the potential health risks associated with camping.
Asthma and Allergies
Dr Al Tayeb said:
Individuals with chronic health conditions, including those with asthma and allergies, could be at an increased risk of health complications when camping. These individuals are advised to avoid exposure to fire smoke and dust as both can trigger allergic reactions and lead to serious health complications. All campers are advised not to burn wood or charcoal inside their tent, or in an enclosed space, due to the high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide has no taste, colour or smell, but it can be fatal when inhaled in large amounts. Carbon monoxide poisoning has flu-like symptoms, including a headache, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath, and can cause loss of consciousness, suffocation, and even death.’
Dr Al Tayeb added that campers with asthma and allergies should get flu vaccines to help reduce the risk of contracting viral infections. They should be immunised at least two weeks before going camping, as they are more vulnerable to health complications associated with weather changes.
He added that asthma patients and those with allergies should carry prescribed medications with them and take them as directed. When necessary, those with asthma and allergies should use a face mask to protect against dust and fire smoke, and as a precautionary measure, anti-inflammatory medications (cortisone inhalers/nebulizers) are recommended to help prevent asthma attacks.
Dr Farouq Al Rawi, Emergency Medicine Consultant at HMC’s Al Wakra Hospital, says there are a number of steps which individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, can take to help protect their health while camping. He says with the right precautions, there is no reason why most individuals cannot safely enjoy camping.
Dr Farouq said:
Diabetics should consult their doctor before travelling to camping sites, as there may be factors that could require changes to medication timing and dosage. Campers with diabetes are also advised to continually monitor their blood glucose level to avoid potential complications that can result from changes to diet and activity level. Eating in moderation is always recommended for diabetics, but this is particularly important when camping as a change in routine can increase the risk of diabetic complications, including diabetic coma. When planning to camp, it is important to take sufficient amounts of medication, especially insulin, and to ensure that all medicine is safely stored.’
Heart Disease and Other Complications
Those with heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease, are also advised to seek medical advice before going camping. Most individuals with epilepsy can safely camp, provided they take their medication as prescribed. However, those who have recurring seizures or uncontrolled epilepsy, or other conditions that require close medical observation, are recommended to avoid camping.