Home Health Illnesses and Other Risks Associated...

Illnesses and Other Risks Associated With Harmattan

It’s the end of the year again and the harmattan season is here with its many ups and downs. This season of love brings with it lots of dust and certain illnesses and risks that are almost unavoidable.

If this is the first time you hear about Harmattan, then here is all you need to know about it. The western region of Africa, especially Nigeria, has two seasons; the rainy season and harmattan or dry season.

The rainy season is characterised by rainfalls and sunshine, while the harmattan season is characterised by dry wind, dust, and cold. The harmattan season begins in the month November and lasts till early or mid-March.

During the harmattan season, the mornings and evenings are usually very cold the afternoons could be a little warm or hot and very dusty. It isn’t rare for certain places in Africa to experience drought during the harmattan season due to the lack of rainfall.

The harmattan season is a seasonal wind that blows across the Northwestern part of Africa on a yearly basis from the late month of November till March the following year. This wind and its dryness stripped the area of humidity, and this leads to hot afternoons and cool evenings/mornings.

The harmattan wind blows from north to south as it works its way through the Sahara to the Gulf of Guinea. As the wind travels, it carries with it dust and germs, and that is what makes it a dusty wind that causes catarrh and skin dryness.

In areas that are very dusty when the harmattan intensifies it can actually lead to a sandstorm. Several risks are associated with the harmattan season, and this article will be looking at the risks and illnesses that tag along with the dry wind and cold of the season.

1. Fire outbreaks

During the harmattan season, a lot of people tend to engage in bush burning activities, and this can lead to a fire outbreak because of the dryness of the wind.

Although the harmattan season is best for clearing up bushes and farmlands against the next farming season or for building purposes, it is important that you stay close to wherever you may be burning so that it will be easy for you to control the fire and prevent a spread that would likely destroy lives and properties.

Every harmattan season, several fire outbreaks are recorded, and most of the incidents are as a result of carelessness.

2. Poor visibility

As a child growing up in the northern region of Nigeria the harmattan season was always one I look forward to because most times it was difficult to see the person right in front of you due to the haze it brings in the mornings.

this is the sometimes due to lots of dust particles in the air and can make visibility a problem for both drivers and pilots source during the harmattan season and individual has to drive very carefully, and air travel might not be much of a good idea when the haze is around.

3. Asthma and other respiratory conditions

As stated before the harmattan season is a very dusty one feels people with respiratory conditions or asthma have to be extra careful when going around or engaging in any activity some people are usually seen wearing nose mask to help fields filter the air during the harmattan season.

Asthmatic patients who do not take precaution during harmattan tend to suffer more crisis than any other time in the year.

4. Pneumonia and bronchitis

People tend to suffer from pneumonia and bronchitis a lot during this season. the young and aged at the most vulnerable to these conditions during the harmattan period for people who are allergic to cold it is best to dress covered to stay warm as the mornings and evenings are usually extremely cold and may lead to symptoms of fever even in the healthiest person.

5. The skin

If there is any part of your body that suffers the most during harmattan it is your skin. The cold, dust, and dryness can make the skin of any person dry and flaky.

You may begin to notice cracks on your heels, your lips, and even on some parts of your skin because the season makes you easily get dehydrated and lose moisture.

To keep your skin looking fresh and healthy during the season you can make use of oily body creams and dress in weather-friendly attires so that you’re not exposed to the extreme heat or the extreme cold.

Besides if you miss wearing your blazers jackets and hoodies this is the perfect time for you to bring them out of your wardrobe and rock them check our article on how to dress for the harmattan season for ideas and tips.

6 The eyes

While you may find it easy to dress up and cover other parts of your body, not everyone remembers to you wear sun shades and cover their eyes from the harshness of the dust and sun during the harmattan season.

The flying particles of dust that comes along with the wind can easily settle on your lashes or get into your eyes, causing redness and irritation especially for those with allergic eye disease.

If you want to pick a nice pair of sunglasses for the harmattan, be sure to follow tips like checking to see if the set of sunglasses look good on you or asking an attendant in the shop to help you select a sunglass that will look perfect for the shape of your face.

That way, you look good while protecting your eyes from the harshness of the weather.

7. Foodborne disease

It is important to practice a healthy culture when it comes to food during this season because of the dust. Before you eat fruits or vegetables, ensure to wash them properly. And also, keep your foods covered so that particles of dust do not settle on them.

Meningitis is another condition that a lot of people tend to suffer from during this season, but it is important to get vaccinations especially if you live in the northern part of Nigeria.

8. Dehydration

This is the season where everybody gets dehydrated everything dries out, so it is important for you to consume lots of water or liquid to stay hydrated.

Dehydration is very dangerous and can lead to several health conditions that would make your harmattan season terrible and uncomfortable if you. If you are not a fan of drinking lots of water you can consume fruits with a high water content that can keep you hydrated during this season.

9. A cough and Catarrh

Cough and catarrh are the major illnesses that come with harmattan because of the dust and dryness.

Ensure to dress covered and stay away from dusty environments. Keep your house clean by moping your floors and dusting your furniture and gadgets every morning so that your family and friends will not inhale the dust.

When you step out of the house, make sure to carry with you a nose mask to protect yourself from inhaling the dirty air. With everything that has a bad side, there also has to be one or two good sides, and that includes the harmattan season.

One beautiful thing about this season is that you can have your parties outdoor without fear of rainfall. Also because of the dryness and harsh weather condition, the environment becomes unhealthy for the breeding of mosquitoes which makes malaria reduced during the time of the year.

The harmattan season comes just in time for the Christmas and new year festivities which means you can have as much fun as you want without having to drag an umbrella along looking like a magician trying to do an umbrella trick.

This is the time to enjoy some chill after the heat from the previous season so do not hesitate to dress comfortable and stay protected.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

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