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Can Saharan Dust Cause Allergies

Is The Saharan Dust Storm Dangerous

How to tell the difference? Saharan dust allergies can mimic COVID symptoms

While dust storms may not have the destructive power of a tropical storm or a hurricane, high levels of exposure to dust particles can have adverse effects on respiratory health, especially when it comes to bigger dust particles. Large dust particles can cause eye irritation and can enter the upper airways, impacting the sinuses behind your nose.While for most these dust particles will only cause slight irritation, those with underlying sinus or respiratory issues may experience more severe side effects, including difficulty breathing.

What Happens When The Saharan Dust Plume Arrives In The Us

  • Satellite images show it lurking like giant surge of atmospheric mud.
  • The plume is an annual event.
  • The dust could trigger allergies.

We’ve all heard by now about the huge plume of Saharan dust coming our way.

Satellite images show it lurking in the atmosphere like a giant wave of mud.

Each year, some 800 million metric tons of desert dust blow up from North Africa and become the largest source of airborne dust particles on the planet, according to NASA. The particles form huge plumes of dry, dusty air that move from the Sahara Desert, off the coast of Africa and over the Atlantic Ocean.

While the current plume heading our way is unusually dense, it’s not as bad it looks.

“Dust plumes like these typically become less concentrated the farther to the west they move,” senior meteorologist Chris Dolce said Wednesday. “But the dust might at least contribute to hazy skies in some areas of the U.S. There could also be brilliant sunrises and sunsets.”

The one caveat: Some areas could experience elevated levels of air pollution, and the dust could trigger allergies.

Parts of Texas in particular are expected to see unhealthy air levels Thursday and Friday. Areas in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska could also be affected.

A similar plume in 2018 caused the worst air pollution of the year in Arkansas and Texas, according to Yale Climate Connections.

Our Air Quality Is Better Than Usual Right Now

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept many of us in our homes more and in our cars less and Houston’s air quality has benefited significantly from it.

“Houston’s air quality is typically pretty poor, and unfortunately, this regularly triggers a person’s pre-existing breathing or airway issues,” explains Dr. Connolly. “Adding a cloud of Saharan dust into the mix tends to make matters worse for these people.”

But this summer’s improved air quality might actually mean that the dust cloud may not be as problematic as usual.

People with underlying airway issues will still need to take extra precautions. To lessen the severity of symptoms you might experience, Dr. Connolly recommends:

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Symptoms For Colds Vary But Often Include:

  • Nasal symptoms like a runny nose and congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Research Division, the plume of Saharan dust or African dust usually reaches the U.S. sometime in late spring through early autumn. We experience a wave of dry dust that blows in from the Sahara Desert. This massive plume, called the Saharan Air Layer by scientists, can raise the levels of air pollution. Health experts say the dust particles irritate some people and bring on mostly mild allergy symptoms. The dust particles can cause respiratory irritation for people with conditions like asthma or emphysema.

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Tips For Treating With Saharan Dust Allergies

Citizens in Trinidad and Tobago deal with the onslaught of Saharan dust layers more often than many of our throats can handle.

While most allergy and sinus medications tend to be on the drowsy side, there are still options sinus sufferers can try to make sure they can function even on the dustiest day.

With the current dust event expected to linger for the next few days, weve compiled a few tips for treating the nasal effects of Saharan dust:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

  • It can give you a bit of a kick, but mixing a teaspoon of ACV in a glass of room temperature water can help to curb the spread of the dust particles. Some medical experts say it even works similarly to antihistamines .

    Having some ACV in water once in the morning and once in the evening can make a huge difference in how your body reacts to the dust.

  • Honey

  • As with most other throat irritants, honey tends to soothe the area while acting as natural medicine. Raw honey contains pollen agents, so exposing your body to allergens like pollen means itll build up natural resistance when dust waves hit.

    Two teaspoons of honey twice a day can make all the difference.

  • Wear a mask, even when you dont have to

  • COVID-19 changed the world with its devastating effects, but for folks with dust allergies, a coronavirus preventative also doubles as a way to combat Saharan dust wear a mask.

    Wear them around the house or in the car when dust concentrations are high and less particles will enter to irritate your nose and throat.

  • Aloe

  • How Can The Saharan Dust Plume Impact Your Respiratory System

    The Saharan dust plume can be difficult for anyone to breathe in, Raymond Casciari, MD, a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA, tells Verywell. If the air descends, it will be difficult for the respiratory tract, he says. It is very dry air and, the drier the air, the harder it is to breathe.

    The plume can be especially difficult for people with allergies. People with allergies should be aware that dust particles may be more prevalent in the coming days with accumulation increasing both indoors and outdoors, Irum Noor, DO, an allergist/immunologist at ENT Allergy Associates, tells Verywell.

    The dry, dusty air can serve a trigger for an increase in allergy symptoms, says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network, and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. If you struggle with allergies, you may experience the following symptoms if the Saharan dust plume comes to your area:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Nasal congestion

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    Are My Symptoms From Saharan Dust Or Coronavirus

    Haley Hernandez, Health Reporter

    HOUSTON The KPRC 2 meteorologist team has been mentioning that Saharan dust is moving through our area this weekend.

    That means if you have allergies, they are probably acting up and those symptoms may be misinterpreted as a coronavirus infection since symptoms are similar.

    Ashley Wenaas, MD, from Texas ENT Specialists, said both can cause shortness of breath, nasal congestion, nasal drainage and cough.

    The main difference, according to Wenaas, is allergies caused by the dust storm should not cause a fever, muscle or body aches, loss of smell or digestive problems. Those are all symptoms linked to COVID-19.

    Sneezing is also a major sign of allergies and not COVID.

    Wenaas said wearing a mask is a great protection since it will help you inhale fewer dust particles and protect you/others from coronavirus.

    You should also avoid spending time outside as the dust storm moves through if you have underlying respiratory issues.

    Do You Have A Dust Allergy

    Saharan dust could affect allergies and air quality

    A dust allergy can cause a variety of symptoms similar in nature toother types of allergies.

    The best way to determine if your dust allergy is caused by dust mites oranother allergen is to seek aprofessional diagnosis. In addition to asking questions about your symptomsand home, the doctor may examineyour noses lining with a lighted instrument.If your nasal passages are pale, bluish, or swollen, its a good indicationyou suffer from an airborne allergy.Your doctor may refer you to an allergist for further testing to narrow downthe cause. Allergists commonlyconduct these two tests.

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    Saharan Dust On The Way Could Make Respiratory Conditions Worse

    JACKSON, Miss. Flowers, pets and pollen are just a few things that can cause seasonal allergies in the spring and summer. This week, Saharan dust is expected to make its way to Mississippi.

    The dust is expected to make its way up from the Gulf.

    Dr. Timothy Quinn said that the best way for anyone with respiratory conditions to gear up is to just keep a low profile for the weekend.

    This weekend, when it is anticipated that the dusts will be more readily available in the atmosphere here locally, its a good idea to try to avoid outdoor activities as much as you can, he explained.

    A few people walking their dogs at Flowood Nature Park discussed their allergies, like Ty Cothern. He said its been a tough week.

    Theyve gotten pretty rough, Cothern said. Its getting harder to breathe and its just like an every day struggle.

    A little bit luckier than Cothern is his friend Shelby Cotton, who also has a dog.

    If I had allergies, it would be terrible, Cotton said. She sheds so much. Im so glad I dont because Ty gets them all the time.

    Dr. Quinn said that there is one good outdoor exercise that should be safe if you absolutely must: thats swimming.


    How To Protect Ourselves

    Increases of dust of any kind can provoke symptoms things such as coughing, shortness of breath, or sometimes sneezing as the nose tries to clear particles out of the air, Dr. McCormack explained. It is also important that people with underlying lung conditions, such as COPD and asthma, are aware of their increased risk of complications if exposed. Experiencing increases in dust, like we are seeing, can have respiratory health consequences and can contribute to an exacerbation of symptoms, she said.

    Though people with chronic lung disease are more at risk for developing complications from the Saharan dust storm, everyone has the potential to experience symptoms related to dust exposure. If you live in an area that is experiencing higher levels of dust than normal, Dr. McCormack says to stay on alert for symptoms like wheezing and coughing. Sometimes people experience watery eyes or nose and eye irritation, she added. That might be another sign that youre having increased exposure.

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    Saharan Dust Causing Concerns For People With Allergies

    LOUISIANA – Saharan dust has been floating around in the Gulf of Mexico on and off throughout this summer season.

    While it helps to prevent tropical storms due to the dryer air conditions, Keith DeSonier, Md. says it has been tough on people with allergies.

    “We see an uptick in the cases here because it coincides with regular pollen. So with all the rain we’ve had, you may notice you are mowing your lawn more often because things are pollinating a little bit more.”

    DeSonier says this Saharan dust is causing a lot of people to feel stuffed up, even if you don’t have allergies.

    “It gets into your breathing passage and you don’t see it, but it’ll get into your breathing passage and that’s what the nose does, the nose is a big filter. It cleans, warms, and humidifies the air that you breathe. Your lung likes really clean air.”

    DeSonier says contrary to the idea that the desert is barren and dry, it’s full of pollen just waiting for moisture.

    “Dust gets trapped up in the air, the winds blow it to a level and the wind will carry it for miles. The sand from the desert gets picked up and the heavier sand will fall to the earth and the light particles will fly until they finally stop. And so that’s why we get the strange dust clouds that you see.”

    Thankfully, DeSonier says relief can be bought over the counter, but there is another simple way to avoid the pollen.

    Copyright 2018 KPLC. All Rights Reserved.

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    Saharan Dust: How Can It Impact Your Health

    Dust from Sahara Desert in Texas could cause coronavirus

    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.

    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.

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    How The Saharan Dust Plume Could Make Your Allergies Worse

    HealthDay Reporter

    THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 — As the giant Saharan dust plume continues its 5,000-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean, experts warn that people in its path can expect to have flare-ups of allergies and asthma.

    The massive dust cloud is expected to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast this week.

    “The tiny dust particles contained in the plume will cause eye, nose and throat irritation for anyone who comes in their path, but particularly for allergy and asthma sufferers,” said allergist Dr. J. Allen Meadows, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

    “Keep in mind this does not relate to traditional dust mite allergy, but dust storms, air pollution and other outdoor irritants can make asthma symptoms worse and make breathing more difficult,” he said in a college news release.

    The dust plume, drifting from North Africa across the Atlantic to North America, occurs a few times every year, experts say. But this week, the cloud of dust is especially huge, and it’s already hit the Caribbean.

    These tips may help you weather the health risks of the Saharan plume:

    Show Sources

    Saharan Dust Blows Into Texas Causing Hazy Conditions And Lower Air Quality

    AUSTIN A plume of Saharan dust has moved into Central Texas. This made the long5,000 mile journey all the way from the Saharan desert in Africa.


    1) There are many positives of Saharan dust, including helping to inhibit hurricane activity in the Atlantic ocean. Dust is associated with dry air and hurricanes need moist air to develop and thrive.

    2) The Amazon rainforest is usually stripped of phosphorous and nutrients after heavy rain and flooding. But Saharan dust refuels the rainforests vegetation and soil.

    3) Saharan dust can also fertilize Plankton and cause blooms across the Atlantic ocean and into the Gulf of Mexico. This in return provides food for ocean creatures.


    How are we affected locally?

    High concentrations of the dust here locally, which is common for this time of the year, lowers our air quality as dust particles get suspended into the air that we breathe. You can see much of Texas is under a Moderate index.

    A moderate index means that a small number of unusually sensitive people may have a few health concerns. The elderly and the very young as well as people with asthma and other respiratory issues are at highest risk. Its important for these people to limit their time outdoors.


    Highest concentration of dust looks to move in by Monday evening and stick around through the day on Tuesday.

    Air quality and visibility should improve Wednesday night into Thursday as much of the Saharan dust moves and mixes out.

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    What Is Saharan Dust And How Can It Affect Asthma

    • Reactions 0 reactions

    I am a strong believer in “learning something new every day” and I had never heard of Saharan dust until recently. A community member on our shared that Saharan dust that had blown over the Caribbean Islands was a major trigger for her asthma. Saharan Dust affects millions of people each year, especially those with asthma and allergies, so I decided it was an important thing to research and write about to share with the community.

    What Else Can I Do To Help Prevent Dust Allergies

    Saharan dust affecting people with allergies, respiratory illnesses

    While seeking treatment from an allergist and using medication can helpcontrol your allergy symptoms, you canalso make changes at home to lessen your exposure in the first place. Hereshow to prevent dust in your house:

    To protect yourself from dust allergies, clean your home regularly. Dustfurniture with a damp cloth or cleaningspray at least once a week. Wait for dust to settle before you vacuum. Tryusing a HEPA filter or a double bagon your vacuum to help trapallergens. Also, wash throw rugs regularly and curtains twice a year.

    Cleaning is especially important in the bedroom, a haven for dust. Pillows andmattresses hide microscopic dustmites. Wash bed linens in hot water, and vacuum the mattress and box springand under the bed. For addedprotection, remove decorative pillowsand stuffed animals, use dust-mite-proof covers on pillows and mattresses, andconsider swapping carpeting forbare floors.

    The fight against dust doesnt stop there. In every room, you can minimizeknickknacks and clutter that cancollect dust. Remember, the best defense against a dust allergy iscleanliness.

    Visit our page 5 Indoor Air Quality Tips for more strategies to reduce indoor allergens.

    To learn how to decorate for the holidays without attracting or stirring updust, visit our pageWantto Decorate Without Dust?

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