Saharan Dust: How can it impact your health?
Health Wise
June 23, 2020

Saharan Dust: How can it impact your health?

During the past few days you may have noticed that outside is looking very hazy. This is due to Saharan dust plume blowing across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa into the Caribbean and North America. Large plumes of Saharan dust routinely blow across from Africa into the Atlantic Ocean around this time of the year.

As the dust particles cover the Caribbean, we come into contact with them as we move around on the outside. The air becomes polluted and air quality falls. By breathing in these particles or by them becoming trapped in our eyes, varying health problems can occur. The Saharan dust could cause allergy symptoms that are similar to COVID-19. Your eyes can get terribly itchy, you can suffer from runny nose and may have difficulty breathing. It can cause you to feel flu-ish, with increased coughing and chest congestion and those can be confused with signs of COVID-19.
It is important to be careful and to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the effect of the dust and from COVID-19. Wearing of a face mask will help to protect you from both conditions.

Persons who suffer from respiratory ailments, particularly asthma, sinuses and allergies, are more prone to be affected. Persons with dry eyes or other eye problems such as cataracts and pterygium can also suffer from eye irritation.

For those who suffer more complicated respiratory ailments, it’s advised that you keep the required medication on you at all times and speak to your doctor to decide whether more aggressive treatment would be necessary, or to set up a plan of action in case of emergency. This is especially important for those who suffer from moderate to severe asthma and whose asthma attacks are easily triggered and can become complicated.

If you have regular allergies opt for allergy specific medication. These allow for a more direct approach to treatment and provides protection, whereas lighter drugs may not.

For those who sufferer from sensitive skin and may have eczema, particles may be trapped on the skin due to the increase in humidity around this time. This can cause itching and these skin conditions may flare up. Wearing light protective covering may help to avoid exposure to these particles and potential allergic skin reactions.

For those with eye conditions, the wearing of recommended sunglasses or other eye protection may help to avoid these particles becoming trapped in the eyes.

Even If your health remains unaffected, the dust can cause inconvenience and can cover your car, windows and household appliances. You may want to keep your windows and doors closed to prevent particles from coming inside. If you are using air conditioning, cleaning of the filters may be needed. Regular cleaning can help to get rid of these particles as they can accumulate over time.