BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Saharan dust cloud has made for some interesting skyline shots of the Capital City, but it may also pose a risk to your health.
“With those dust particles, if you inhale them, they can cause symptoms like dry cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, mild chest pains,” said Steven Presley, a licensed physician assistant and the director of development at Patient Plus Urgent Care Center.
Presley points out that unfortunately, these dust cloud symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19, but there are some differences to look out for.
“The dust particles in the air, when those are inhaled, those aren’t going to cause fever or body aches,” said Presley.
He explains the dust plume poses the biggest threat of discomfort to those with preexisting respiratory conditions like COPD, asthma, and bronchitis.
Taking in those air particles may flare up your condition.
“Maybe you don’t go outside as much in the next week or so, as long as the dust cloud is here,” said Presley. “You want to make sure you’re not potentially exposing yourself to those dust particles.”
So the easiest thing to do is probably to just stay inside.
If you do need to leave the house in the next few days, put on a mask. Presley says just like you wear a mask to protect yourself from COVID-19, the same concept applies for the dust.
“If you’re wearing a mask, you reduce the chance of inhaling those particles through your nose and your mouth and potentially aggravate those symptoms,” he said.
If you do have preexisting respiratory issues, he says it’s a good idea to make sure you have refilled prescriptions or inhalers handy.
“They do need to make sure they have those ready on hand in case they do experience an exacerbation,” said Presley.
If you experience an episode or debilitating symptoms, call your physician or visit an urgent care center.
Now as for the dust’s effects on outdoor pets, Claiborne Hill Veterinary Hospital says if you don’t see your pet exhibiting allergy symptoms such as sneezing, then your animals are okay.
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