Do you know that harmattan dust increases cases of respiratory infections such as asthma?
This is why parents need to be extra careful during this season as harmattan and the dust it brings affects all exposed surfaces of the human body like the skin, eyes, nose, mouth and the respiratory tract
The harmattan season is usually a dry and dusty period associated with low humidity. During harmattan a dry and dusty wind blows southwards from the Sahara across the country, it occurs between the end of November and March each year.
On its passage over the desert, it picks up large amounts of dust particles. The particles are transported hundreds of kilometres over the south.
These dust particles may overwhelm the respiratory system and predispose it to infection. This is why it is common place to experience excessive sneezing, cough, catarrh and even nasal bleeding during harmattan. Adults and children with pre existing chronic chest infection like asthma should take special precaution to reduce exposure to the dusty atmosphere in addition to having their inhaler with them all the times.
How can parents protect their child during harmattan?
During the harmattan season, parents should try to limit their children's exposure to dust. Ensure your house is cleaned regularly. Wipe your windows, fans and all surfaces with wet rags.
While you cannot really control the dust on the streets, you can control the ones around your environment. During this season, it advised to clean and dust your carpets and if you have a child with asthma, remove the carpet as this can harbour a lot of dust.
If you notice your child has catarrh or a cold make sure you treat it immediately. Prompt treatment of respiratory symptoms like cough, catarrh during this season is important.
Your child's skin should be kept healthy by skin application of oily creams, lubricants to keep it moist and protected.
Wearing weather friendly dressing is advised. Make sure your children are kept warm especially by putting on warm clothing.
Air-conditioners should also be serviced to avoid harmattan induced symptoms.
What can parents do when a child has a cold?
If your child has a cold, one thing that can help is steam inhalation. Just boil water, pour in a bowl or bucket and carefully position your child over the bucket with a towel on their head. Be careful as children have been known to experience burns from hot water. The moisture will help to sooth the nose, sinuses as well as the lungs.
The harmattan also triggers sickle cell crisis in children with sickle cell anaemia. Oxygen in blood is usually reduced in extremes of temperatures, like cold. Thus, parents of children with sickle cell anaemia should be take extra precaution and keep them warm as much as possible to prevent a crisis.