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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (June 24, 2020) – A giant plume of dust originating in the Sarahan Desert is heading towards the southeastern United States from 5,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean and predicted to wreak havoc on those who suffer from allergies and asthma. Those following the plume say the cloud of dust could arrive on the Gulf Coast this week.

“The tiny dust particles contained in the plume will cause eye, nose and throat irritation for anyone who comes in their path, but particularly for allergy and asthma sufferers,” says allergist J. Allen Meadows, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Keep in mind this does not relate to traditional dust mite allergy, but dust storms, air pollution and other outdoor irritants can make asthma symptoms worse and make breathing more difficult.”

The following five tips from ACAAI may help you steer clear of the health risks posed by the Saharan Plume.

  1. Keep your eyes on the weather report – Weather channels and meteorologists are monitoring the plume and will offer information on air quality changes. Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible if you hear of worsening dust conditions in your area.
  2. Face masks can help – If you must go outside, wear your face mask. The continued presence of COVID-19 means most people are now in possession of one or more face masks. Masks can help keep dust particles out and protect your nose and mouth.
  3. Keep up with your medications – You and your allergist have worked out your medications, whether for your allergies or your asthma. Stay on those medications to keep your symptoms under control and your breathing well-regulated.
  4. Stay calm – A huge weather event like this might make you feel anxious, but research shows psychological stress can make asthma and allergies more difficult to control and increase the likelihood of asthma flares. And it can also increase the duration and severity of symptoms. If you normally have stress-reducing measures you turn to such as yoga or meditation, keep them in place.
  5. Talk to your allergist  - If it feels as though your symptoms are worse due to the Sarahan Plume, ask your allergist to work with you to get guidance on what you need to do to keep your asthma and allergies under control.

A board-certified allergist can help identify and treat your allergic symptoms and create an action plan so you can live the life you want. For more information about allergies and asthma, and to locate an allergist in your area, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org

About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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