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. It is characterized by the dry and dusty north-eastern trade wind, that blows from the Sahara desert over West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea bringing desert-like weather conditions such as:
- Low humidity,
- dissipation of cloud cover,
- prevention rainfall formation and
- creation of big clouds of dust which can result in dust storms or sandstorms
- wide fluctuations in the ambient temperatures of the day and night. Temperatures can be as low as 9 °C (48 °F) all day, but sometimes in the afternoon the temperature can also soar to as high as 30 °C (86 °F)
Humidity drops to as low as 5%, which can result in spontaneous nosebleeds for some people. Other health effects on humans may include conditions of the skin (dryness of the skin), dried or chapped lips, eyes, and respiratory system. Harmattan dust has been associated with increased cases of respiratory infections such as asthma, cough, catarrh, tonsillitis, influenza, and pneumonia. The weather is also associated with frequent headaches, cough, cold, sore throat, sneezing, wet eyes, and general nasal tract disorder causing great discomfort.
Cold dusty Harmattan is also a season of anguish for patients with cardiovascular diseases, as it aggravates and worsens the outcome of blood pressure, stroke, hypertension, heart failure and other heart diseases. In people with chronic bronchitis, the acute exacerbations caused by infections during harmattan acutely upset the pulmonary vascular haemodynamics, placing a heavy burden on the heart.
Several studies have shown that the dry, cold and dusty wind associated with the Harmattan weather can also lead to more complicated diseases like rheumatism, arthritis and even death from hypothermia, as a result of the respiratory system which suffers greatly when the body is exposed to cold and dry weather. It can also triggers crises in sickle cell patients.
Other mild challenges experienced during the Harmattan are cracking or breaking of lips, sole of the feet, conjunctivitis (Apollo), dry skin and others.
COVID-19: Due to dusty harmattan weather which may facilitate the spread of coronavirus, it is very likely that there will be an increase in COVID-19 infection rate during the harmattan season.
Taking lots of water is recommended to prevent dehydration and heatstroke due to the dryness of the weather and temperature fluctuations during this period.
Use of Sunglasses and Nose Coverings
It is safer sometimes to wear sunglasses and nose mask or covering to protect the eyes, and nose where the winds are quite dusty and harsh, to prevent infections.
Use of Immune Boosting Supplements
Adequate intake of immune boosters and antioxidants such as Vitamin C can help reduce the risks of infection. Another powerful immune boosting supplement is Immunozin Capsules which strengthens the natural body defences against infections and diseases. Immunozin also helps in improving the clinical features of sickle cell disorder. It inhibits polymerization of the red blood cells from occurring thus prevents the cascade of events that lead to crisis, painful episodes, and other features of sickle cell anaemia.
Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables
Consumption of fruits and vegetables is highly recommended during this season. Fruits and vegetables contains vitamins and minerals that support and help boost immunity. This will help the body fight off infections.