Citizens Health Health Awareness
Health Awareness

Find out more about the personal health services provided by the government. Browse through the services to find out whom to contact in order to issue certificates in cases of birth or death or a medical certificate of your physical fitness or disabilities. You can also learn more about insurance programs and personal health facilities.

Effects of Smoking

Nicotine dependence is the physical vulnerability of your body to the chemical nicotine, which is potently addicting when delivered by various tobacco products. Smoke from cigarettes, cigars and pipes contains thousands of chemicals, including nicotine. Nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects in your brain that are temporarily pleasing; these effects reinforce your continued use of tobacco.

Being addicted to tobacco brings you a host of health problems related to the substances in tobacco smoke. These effects include damage to your lungs, heart and blood vessels.

Breaking an addiction to nicotine is difficult and takes commitment, support and time. But even if you are a long-time smoker, stopping smoking plus taking healthy lifestyle steps can reverse much of the damage smoking has done to your body.

Hookah Smoking

The water pipe – hookah, narghile, shisha or goza in Arabic - has been used to smoke tobacco in the Middle East and Asia for centuries.Hookah smoke is filtered through water before it is inhaled. This fact leads many people to believe that hookah smoking is safer than smoking cigarettes because the water in the hookah filters out all the "bad stuff". This is not true. Recent studies have found that hookah smokers actually ingest more nicotine than cigarette smokers because of the massive volume of smoke they inhale.

According to a World Health Organization advisory, a typical one-hour session of hookah smoking exposes the user to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette. Even after passing through the water, the tobacco smoke still contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens).

Hookah smoking also delivers significant levels of nicotine - the extremely addictive substance in tobacco. The hookah smoking trend is a concern for doctors and public health experts because, despite the claims of many users, smoking from a hookah is proving to be even more dangerous than smoking a cigarette.

Signs and Symptoms

Being dependent on tobacco may mean you have these signs and symptoms:

  • You can't stop smoking. You've made one or more serious but unsuccessful attempts to stop.
  • You experience strong withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop. Your attempts at stopping have caused physical signs and symptoms of addiction, such as craving for tobacco, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, headache, drowsiness, stomach upset, even constipation or diarrhea.
  • You keep smoking despite health problems. Even though you've developed problems with your lungs or your heart, you haven't stopped or can't stop. This is one of the highest measures of tobacco dependence.
  • You give up social or recreational activities in order to smoke. You may stop going to certain restaurants or stop socializing with certain family or friends because you can't smoke in these situations.


When you inhale tobacco smoke, you are ingesting a chemical parade that will march through most of your body's vital organs. The negative health effects throughout your body are numerous, including:

  • Lungs: Smoking is the cause of 87 percent of all lung cancer. Smoking is also the primary cause of other lung problems, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • Heart and circulatory system: Smoking is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The reason for this is unclear, but researchers suspect that nicotine triggers your adrenal glands to produce hormones that stress your heart by increasing blood pressure and heart rate. Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke steals oxygen from the heart and other vital organs. Smoking may also constrict your blood vessels, placing you at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Cancer: Smoking is a major cause of cancer of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and contributes to cancer of the bladder, pancreas, liver, kidney, cervix, stomach, colon and rectum, and some leukemia.
  • Appearance: The chemicals in tobacco smoke can dry and irritate your skin as well as promote wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
  • Fertility: Smoking increases the risk of infertility and miscarriage in women and the risk of impotence and infertility in men.
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications: Mothers who smoke while pregnant increase the risk of low birth weight, pre-term delivery and impaired lung function in their newborns.
  • Senses: Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food is not as appetizing as it once was.

H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu)

What is H1N1 Flu?

H1N1 Flu, also called Swine Flu, is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by "Type A" influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs.

The flu typically spreads between pigs, however human infections have been reported.

Symptoms of H1N1 Flu

H1N1 Flu has the typical symptoms of regular seasonal flu including: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, and in some cases diarrhoea and vomiting.

In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with H1N1 Flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, H1N1 Flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

H1N1 Flu Treatment

There are no vaccines that contain the current H1N1 influenza virus causing illness in human.

However, treatment with antivirals, such as Oseltamivir, has been successful in outbreak areas. Prevention Methods

1. Stay in good general health.

2. Get plenty of sleep.

3. Be physically active.

4. Manage your stress.

5. Drink plenty of fluids.

6. Eat nutritious food.

7. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Through the tissue in the trash after you use it.

8. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.

9. Avoid touching your eyes nose or mouth.

10. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

What To Do In case of Infection or Suspected Infection

If you suspect that you have any of the above symptoms, please visit the nearest hospital. Health facilities are on alert and will provide the appropriate care measures for suspected or confirmed cases of H1N1 Flu.

AIDS (HIV) and Protecting Yourself

AIDS is a serious, potentially fatal condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging or destroying the cells of your immune system, HIV interferes with your body's ability to effectively fight off the viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause the disease to spread.

This makes you more susceptible to certain types of cancers and to infections your body would normally resist, such as pneumonia and meningitis. The virus and the infection itself are known as HIV. The term Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is used to describe the later stages of an HIV infection.

The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary depending on the phase of infection. When first infected with HIV, you may have no symptoms whatsoever although it is more common to develop a brief flu-like illness two to six weeks after becoming infected. But because the signs and symptoms of an initial infection - which may include fever, headache, sore throat, swollen lymph glands and rash - are similar to those of other diseases, you might not realise you have been infected with HIV.

Even with no symptoms, you are still able to transmit the virus to others. Once the virus enters your body, your own immune system also comes under attack. The virus multiplies in your lymph nodes and slowly begins to destroy your helper T cells - the white blood cells that coordinate your entire immune system.

You may remain symptom-free for eight or nine years or even longer. But as the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells. You may develop mild infections or chronic symptoms such as:

  • Swollen lymph nodes - often one of the first signs of HIV infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Coughing and shortness of breath
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Fever for several weeks
  • Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
  • Blurred and distorted vision
  • Persistent, unexplained fatigue


You might get infected with HIV in several ways, including:

Sexual transmission: You may become infected if you have sexual relation with an infected partner whose blood, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body. You may also become infected from shared sexual devices if they are not washed. If you already have another sexually transmitted disease, you are at much greater risk of contracting HIV.

Transmission through infected blood: In some cases, the virus may be transmitted through blood and blood products that you receive in blood transfusions. This includes whole blood, packed red cells, fresh-frozen plasma and platelets. In 1985, American hospitals and blood banks began screening the blood supply for HIV antibodies. This blood testing, along with improvements in donor screening and recruitment practices, has substantially reduced the risk of acquiring HIV through transfusion.

Transmission through needle sharing: HIV is easily transmitted through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia puts you at high risk of HIV and other infectious diseases such as hepatitis. Your risk is greater if you inject drugs frequently or also engage in high-risk sexual activity.

Transmission through accidental needle sticks: Transmission of the virus between HIV-positive people and healthcare workers through needle sticks is low. Experts put the risk at far less than 1 percent.

Transmission through sharing sharp instruments like nail cutters or scissors.

Transmission from mother to child: Each year, nearly 600,000 infants are infected with HIV either during pregnancy or delivery, or through breast-feeding. The rate of mother-to-child transmission in resource-poor countries is up to 40 per cent higher than in the developed world. But if women receive treatment for HIV infection during pregnancy, the risk to their babies is significantly reduced. Combinations of HIV drugs may reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission even more.

You might only get infected with HIV, when infected blood, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body. You will not get infected through ordinary contact – hugging or shaking hands - with someone who has HIV or AIDS.

The idea of being tested for HIV infection is frightening for many people, but remember that testing itself does not make you HIV-positive or HIV-negative. What is more, it is important not only for your own health but also to prevent transmission of the virus to others.

Raising Awareness on AIDS in UAE

Research showed that the UAE is one of the lowest countries with AIDS (HIV) infection rates. However, with the diverse nationalities of expatriates residing in the UAE and the huge developments in the tourism sector, the government has taken a series of measures to raise awareness on AIDS and other infectious diseases.

Dealing with Heat

The temperature rises to its peak during the summer months in the UAE. The combination of high heat, high humidity, and smog can be dangerous, and may cause heat-related disorders and illnesses.

What are Heat-Related Illnesses?

In a hot and humid environment it is more difficult to regulate the body temperature. Physical work and intense exposure to hot temperatures can dramatically increase the body heat and high humidity can interfere with the body's heat-regulating mechanism. The inability to regulate the body temperature and to get rid of the body heat may result in a variety of heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Who is at Risk?

Extreme weather conditions in summer can be risky for anyone and precautions should generally be considered. However, those who are more prone to heat-related illness include:

  • Elderly people.
  • Infants and preschool children.
  • People with certain chronic illnesses, such as heart or lung conditions or people unable to move or change position by themselves.
  • People who exercise vigorously or are involved in strenuous outdoor works for prolonged periods.
  • People taking certain medications.
  • People who drink alcohol heavily.
  • People who use illicit drugs.


Common Heat-Related Illnesses

Extreme body heat affects both mental and physical performance and may cause heat-related illness. Milder forms of heat-related illness are heat cramps and heat exhaustion. A more serious form is the severe heat stroke.

Prickly heat rash

Heat rash occurs as small spots on red skin which feel prickly or sting due to overheating. Severe forms of heat rash can influence the body's heat-regulating mechanism, resulting in fever or heat exhaustion.

Heat cramps

Exercising or other strenuous activity in a hot environment may cause muscle cramps (painful contractions). Heavy sweating results in the loss of water and salts. If the loss of salt is not sufficiently compensated muscle cramps can occur, especially in arms, legs, or abdomen. Usually they improve with taking rest, drinking salty fluids, and moving to a cool environment.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion usually occurs due to heavy exercise and excessive sweating coupled with inadequate fluid and electrolyte intake. Some of the typical symptoms indicating heat exhaustion include heavy sweating with a cool and moist skin, paleness, a fast and weak pulse, as well as rapid and shallow breathing. Headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and fainting as well as heat cramps and dark-coloured urine may also occur. Heat exhaustion can progress to a potentially life-threatening heat stroke.

Heat stroke (also known as sun stroke)

Often resulting from strenuous physical activity in high temperature environments with insufficient fluid and electrolyte intake, the heat stroke is a severe heat-related illness that can be deadly if not properly treated. Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to cool down, the sweating mechanism fails and the body's temperature rises rapidly. Common symptoms of heat stroke are a body temperature of 40 °C or higher, lack of sweating, hot and dry skin, a rapid heartbeat and difficulty in breathing. Other signs include disorientation and confusion, hallucinations and strange behaviour as well as possible delirium or coma. Heat strokes require immediate and proper medical attention.

Avoiding Heat-Related Illnesses

The risk of heat-related illnesses and disorders can be reduced if proper precautions are taken and overheating and dehydration is avoided.

Heat exposure

  • Minimise the heat and sun exposure, especially in the summer months.
  • Stay in the shade as much as possible and take advantage of air conditioned or cool places.
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.

Physical activity

  • Avoid intense physical activity, especially in high temperature environments and under direct sun exposure.
  • Try to rest as much as possible and get sufficient sleep at night.


  • Drink plenty of liquids, like water, natural juices or sport drinks, to replace fluid lost from sweating.
  • Drink even if you are not thirsty and avoid coffee, cola and alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat salty meals in summer to replace salt lost in sweat, but avoid eating heavy meals.


  • Wear light, loose fitting clothing which supports evaporation of sweat and avoids hyperthermia.
  • Wear a hat to protect yourself from direct sun exposure.


Working in the Heat


Workers who are involved in strenuous work outdoors for prolonged periods during the summer months are among the most vulnerable to heat-related illness.

Exercise and Tips to Keep Moving

Although there are no guaranteed recipes for good health, the mixture of healthy eating and regular exercise comes very close.

Regular physical activity is a key ingredient for maintaining and losing weight. It also helps to reduce stress levels while keeping you supple and agile into old age.

Exercise helps many of the body's systems to function better and keeps a host of diseases at bay, such as heart disease and its precursors (high blood pressure and high cholesterol), osteoporosis, certain cancers (including colon and breast), and adult-onset diabetes.

Exercise also helps to control arthritis and the pain associated with the condition, reduces the risk of falling among older adults, relieves depression and anxiety symptoms, and improves the overall mood. You should get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical exercise most days of the week. You can do the full 30 minutes in one session or break it up into 10 or 15 minute periods.

Tips for getting exercise into your life

  • Get off the bus or subway a stop or two earlier on your commute and walk the rest of the way.
  • Park your car a little further from your destination. It may not seem like much, but these minutes of exercise add up over the weeks and months.
  • Use the stairs instead of elevators and escalators whenever possible.
  • Buy a piece of cardiovascular equipment for your home (e.g. treadmill, bike, elliptical machine). Home models can be more affordable than you think and you cannot beat the convenience.
  • When you get busy, try to combine your cardiovascular exercise with something that you do already. Hop on that piece of home equipment while watching TV, reading the newspaper or returning phone calls.
  • Make it fun; try a new sport like tennis or roller-blading. The more you enjoy exercise, the more likely you are to stick to it.
  • Make it social, walk with a friend, your spouse or your family in the morning or evening.
  • Keep an exercise log; it will help to make you more accountable.
  • Take a walk for 20 minutes of your lunch hour.

Hire a personal trainer for a session or two to help with your weight and flexibility training. Then you will have the confidence to branch out on your own.

Avian Influenza

Avian influenza or "bird flu" is a potentially dangerous disease that causes a serious health threat to human beings who are either contacting or handling dead or live infected birds. Research shows that the infection in human causes severe sickness and even death in 60% of cases.

In birds, the disease has three types of viruses that primarily infect birds by attacking the avian cells. The first two may cause mild diseases while the third one is extremely contagious, rapidly fatal and can even cause a severe disease in humans. It is known as the H5N1 virus. All bird species are thought to be susceptible to infection especially domestic poultry flocks such as chicken, turkey and ducks. Symptoms of infection in birds range from mild drops in egg production to failure of major organs and death.

Since mid-2003, the H5N1 virus has caused the largest and most severe outbreaks in poultry on record. Even though bird flu is contagious and spreads easily among birds, it is uncommon for it to be transmitted to humans, but once transmitted from birds to human H5N1 might ultimately adapt into a strain that is contagious among humans, and it will no longer be a bird virus - it will be a human influenza virus.

Avian influenza can spread in five ways:

Within a country, the disease spreads easily from farm to farm. Large amounts of the virus are secreted in bird droppings, contaminating dust and soil. Airborne virus can spread the disease from bird to bird, causing infection when the virus is inhaled.

Contaminated equipments, vehicles, feed, cages or clothing - especially shoes - can carry the virus from farm to farm.

Domestic ducks are susceptible to lethal infections, as are turkeys, geese and several other species raised on commercial or backyard farms.

The disease can spread from country to country through international trade in live poultry.

Migratory birds can carry the virus for long distances.

Bird Flu in Human Beings

Diagnosis and Treatment

Because the virus is new, the human immune system has no pre-existing immunity so people may experience a more serious disease than that caused by normal influenza. The symptoms of bird flu in humans range from typical flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches) to nausea, vomiting, eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases and other life-threatening complications.

Right now, there are two classes of drugs available for the prevention and treatment of human bird flu in many countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends antiviral medications that have an effect in treating influenza caused by H5N1 virus. While there is no effective vaccine guarding against it, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urgently working with others to develop a prototype virus to be used by vaccine manufacturers.

Prevention of Bird Flu

Efforts are also concentrated on controlling outbreaks of avian influenza. This starts with rapidly destroying infected or exposed birds and carcasses, then quarantining and disinfection of farms and restriction of the movement of live poultry, both within and between countries.

When cooking, hands should be washed before and after handling poultry and eggs, and surfaces used with the food should be cleaned with hot water and detergent. Food containing poultry should be boiled up to 70 degree Celsius.

When treating a patient with bird flu, masks and protective cloths should be worn, hands should be washed well before putting on your protective clothing, and all the personal items such as dishes and utensils should be washed with detergent and hot water and separated from other items.

Protection against Bird Flu in UAE

Research and investigation conducted by the government authorities assured that the UAE is completely free of bird flu. However, active control measures have been established to protect against bird flu where a full-proof monitoring system was established at border checkpoints to ensure that all bird shipments entering UAE are safe.

Multilingual pamphlets were distributed in schools, universities, private and government organizations, and exhibitions and conferences were conducted to increase public awareness of the health dangers.

The National Emergency Committee for the Control of Bird Flu was established to supervise and coordinate the work of all the relevant sectors, and monitor the situation at the national and international level.

The Ministry of Health developed the National Influenza Preparedness Plan based on WHO recommendations and protocols. The plan includes stockpiling antiviral medicines, training health professionals in case diagnosis and management, reinforcing the surveillance system, monitoring high risk groups, and undertaking all the necessary preventive measures.


According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) 9.2 % of the adult population in the Eastern Mediterranean are affected by diabetes. In the UAE, approximately 40% of the over-60 year population suffers from diabetes, mostly type 2. The epidemic goes along with short-term symptoms such as weakness and thirst, but can lead to serious consequences like heart attack, stroke or kidney problems in the long-term.

There are different types of diabetes. Most common in the UAE is Diabetes Type 2 in which the body cannot absorb the hormone insulin which regulates the blood sugar (glucose) in the body. This means that the blood sugar levels increase whereas the cells cannot use the glucose to produce energy. Therefore the first symptoms of diabetes are weakness, thirst and increased appetite.

At this stage many people do not detect the symptoms and only discover they are diabetic following a routine investigation or a blood test prior to some surgery.

Diabetes type 2 can still be prevented through regular exercise, healthy diet and avoiding tobacco products.

Reasons for diabetes

Obesity is a major cause of some degree of insulin resistance. Besides obesity, lack of physical activity and age are risk factors for developing this form of (type 2) diabetes and it occurs more frequently in women. It is often associated with a strong genetic predisposition, more so than is the autoimmune form of (type 1) diabetes.

Symptoms and Treatment

Diabetes symptoms include hunger, weight loss, increased urination, and dehydration, and increased thirst, laziness caused by lack of energy, imbalances; confusion; and coma.

Treatment of the diabetes includes insulin shots, oral medications, exercise, diet, stress control, infection control and thorough glucose monitoring.