RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Saharan dust is making its way to the Rio Grande Valley this weekend. As many are already dealing with allergies, specialists tell us how people can prevent a reaction to the Saharan dust. 

“The Saharan dust, it’s really not an allergy,” said Dr. Sujan Gogu a Family Medicine Physician at South Texas Health System Clinics.

The Saharan dust typically lowers the air quality. Many times people confuse the Saharan dust with a type of allergy but local doctors explain the difference. 

“The Saharan dust is an irritant and so it really doesn’t cause sneezing or runny nose but what this does cause is itchy eyes and a sore throat,” said Dr. Gogu.

Doctors tell us while everyone should be cautious, those who have COVID or are recovering from the virus need to limit their exposure outside. 

“If you know you have an underlying lung problem, especially young children or immunocompromised people, people that may be in the recovery phase of COVID or the flu should avoid exposure,” said Dr. John Austin a Physician Advisor at Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen.

Due to the Saharan dust differing from allergies, doctors tell us some over-the-counter medicines may not work. 

“You just have to let your immune system kind of, unfortunately, fight it off. Irritants will inflame the respiratory tract and it generally takes time,” said Dr. Gogu. 

Both physicians tell us this is a measure of prevention rather than a treatment. They do expect to see an increase in people being affected this weekend.

“There will be an increase in patients with coughing and sneezing allergies, like I said if you have a reactive airway problem like asthma then you’re going to have to be really careful,” said Dr. Austin.

Doctors share it’s best to check the air quality before going outside.