Saharan Air Layer wreaks havoc on allergy and asthma sufferers
By Chasity Maxie | June 25, 2020 at 6:24 PM CDT - Updated June 25 at 7:57 PM
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Dust from the Sahara Desert is drifting toward Alabama, and that could be bad news for some allergy and asthma sufferers.
Dr. Thomas Scott, with the Alabama Allergy and Asthma Centers, said those with allergies and upper respiratory issues are in a difficult spot right because we have the trifecta of peak allergy season, the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the Saharan Dust Layer.
Dr. Scott said these dust storms happen every year, but this one is particularly large. In fact, when it left the Sahara, it was the size of the United States.
Traveling about 5,000 miles, the storm has made it through the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and is inching its way into the southern states.
Allergists said the storm is already causing an increase in allergy complaints like runny nose, scratchy throat, sneezing, and post-nasal drip.
Dr. Scott said the dust can really cause problems for those with upper respiratory issues because the dust can activate an inflammatory response in the lungs. He said that’s all the more reason to wear a face covering.
“Wearing a mask is always a good idea,” said Dr. Scott.
“And I would recommend that anyone stay indoors if they are at an extreme age, very young, very old or if they have underlying respiratory issues such as asthma, COPD, or most recently, post-covid patients who have impaired pulmonary function, so that’s a double reason to wear masks,” Dr. Scott said.
Dr. Scott recommends frequent saline flushes to clear your nasal passages, and nasal allergy sprays to suppress symptoms.
He also says to be sure your prescriptions for upper respiratory issues are up-to-date and stocked, because chances are more people will be looking to get those medications once they start feeling the effects of this dust storm.
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