Harmattan: Doctors urge precautionary measures against infections

Harmattan dust increases cases of respiratory infections such as asthma.

Some healthcare experts on Wednesday advised Nigerians to take preventive measures against diseases associated with the harmattan.

In interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, the experts said that some microorganisms which caused diseases increased during harmattan.

Harmattan season is usually a dry and dusty period associated with low humidity. As a result, the weather is harsh to the hair and skin.

Oluwajimi Shodipo, a Family Medicine Specialist in the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, said that harmattan dust increased cases of respiratory infections such as asthma, cough, catarrh, tonsillitis, influenza, and pneumonia.

“Harmattan comes with dust that can trigger asthma and bronchitis attacks as well as cause cold, cough, catarrh, and even meningitis.

“This gives discomfort to people with certain allergic conditions as well as causes infections.

“Asthma patients should be cautious. They tend to have more attacks because harmattan carries dust, pollen grains and other allergenic materials capable of triggering attacks,’’ he said.

Mr. Shodipo advised patients to visit health facilities for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The Medical Director, Sheffi Hospital, Egbeda, Lagos, James Asoka, said that harmattan season could be associated with extreme cold and hot weathers that required appropriate clothing to reduce incidences of respiratory infections.

“During harmattan season, the weather can be cold or very hot. It is, therefore, very necessary to wear appropriate clothes, depending on the temperature.

” The skin should be well protected against the effects of harmattan.

“People should also wear warm clothes to minimise the likelihood of having respiratory and communicable diseases.

“It is safer sometimes to wear sunglasses to protect the eyes, where the winds are quite dusty and harsh, to prevent infections,” he said.

Asoka urged parents to protect their children from getting infections associated with the harmattan season.

Also, a Public Health Officer, Taiwo Oguntoyin, advised Nigerians to take much liquid, especially water, during harmattan to prevent dehydration and heatstroke.

He, however, cautioned against drinking of water from unsafe sources.

“People tend to get water from any source. They expose themselves to greater chances of contracting upper respiratory tract infections and water borne diseases such as diarrheoa and cholera.

“People should be mindful of their sources of water supply. If in doubt, please, boil and allow to cool before drinking,’’ the expert advised.

Mr. Oguntoyin also recommended intake of fruits and vegetables containing much Vitamin C to prevent infections.

The expert said that adequate intake of Vitamin C would also aid recovery for people who already had ailments.


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