Sahara dust storm: Here's how it can affect your health and how you can protect yourself

A dust storm has blown through Europe this week. They can affect your health. These are symptoms to look out for and how to stay safe.

The health risks of sand storms and how you can protect yourself
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The health risks of sand storms and how you can protect yourself

This week a dust storm from the Sahara has blown through Europe and has caused the sky to turn orange due to the amount of dust particles in the air and is set to continue throughout the rest of the week. There can be some health concerns if you are caught in a sand storm that you might not think of. These are some symptoms to keep an eye out for and also some ways to stay safe.

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Symptoms due to dust and sand storms

  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Throat irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Respiratory or breathing difficulties, including asthma attacks

These are the most common symptoms due to these types of storms. If you already have underlying heart or lung issues, you should continue with your regular prescription. If you display any symptoms for an extended period of time after the sand storm has ended, you should talk to your GP.

Who can be affected by dust storms?

Dust storm Amen Moawad / EyeEm

Anyone can be affected by dust storms, however, there are certain groups of people who are at higher risk of developing health issues:

  • People with existing heart or lung conditions (including asthma and hayfever)
  • Infants, children and adolescents
  • Pregnant women
  • People over 65 years of age

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How to stay safe during dust storms

When a dust or sand storm hits, there are multiple things you can do to protect your health or others.

  • Stay indoors, with windows and doors closed
  • Stay in air-conditioned premises and switch the air-conditioner to ‘recycle’
  • Avoid vigorous exercise, especially if you have a heart or lung condition
  • Check on the vulnerable people you know if it is safe to do so
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