Local doctor urges health precautions as Saharan Dust nears

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RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — The Saharan dust is making its way to the Rio Grande Valley, potentially causing a health impact on residents with underlying health conditions.

“Kids or people with asthma can have asthma attacks when the Saharan dust comes,” said Dr. Michelle Jimenez, MD, Pediatric Specialist at South Texas Health System.

According to Dr. Jimenez, the Saharan dust brings a lot of particles and potential viruses that trigger individuals’ chronic health conditions. 

“If you know you have a health condition such as asthma be sure to, number one, take your medication, number two, you can stay indoors. When they have to go outdoors they can wear masks or face coverings,” she said.

Dr. Jimenez said one should avoid opening doors and windows when the Saharan dust arrives, as well as keeping an eye out for any signs of an asthma attack.

She said some of the most common signs include shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness.

The Saharan dust can travel to one’s nasal passages and cause irritation to the lungs even if you don’t suffer from an underlying health condition. Dr. Jimenez added it is important to take precautions as hospitals are limited with resources and equipment from COVID-19. 

“During this time we know hospital admissions are up, so ER visits are also up, you can end up needing oxygen inhalation or, worst-case scenario, you might need ventilatory support.”

If you currently have COVID-19, Dr. Jimenez said it can worsen your symptoms. 

“It can cause increased oxygen requirements, it definitely can increase exacerbation or their respiratory symptoms,” which is why Dr. Jimenez reminds all residents to wear face coverings when the Saharan dust reaches the Rio Grande Valley to prevent any allergies or asthma attacks. 

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