While Southwest Florida will not take a direct hit from Saharan dust, concern still swirls for folks with asthma and allergies.
“The last thing you want to do is end up in the emergency room or having an asthma attack,” said Kenneth Mendez, president and CEO of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America.
Mendez doesn’t take these diseases lightly.
“Ten people die a day from asthma, which a lot of folks don’t know about,” he said.
Air quality events like Saharan dust have the potential of prompting an attack.
“Take care of your asthma and your allergies, take the medication that you need, stay indoors, don’t exercise or go outdoors if there’s really a significant air event, poor air quality event like this,” he said.
Doctor Elvin Mendez of Lee Physicians Group says the dust can trigger allergies.
“So individuals with allergies may have itchy, watery eyes, may have increase in sneeze, congestion and so forth,” he said.
It’s not only asthma and allergies: the dust can possibly affect folks with COPD or even COVID-19.
“As this dust particle is inhaled, it’s going to create a type of reactivity of that airway. So your airways will twitch, there will be more sensation of shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or maybe some wheezing associated with that,” Dr. Mendez said.
While we don’t expect to see anything like they did in Puerto Rico, you still need to stay alert and keep an eye to the sky.
If you have asthma or allergies, experts recommend taking medication as prescribed, wearing an N-95 mask and staying inside when possible.