LUBBOCK, Texas — Sunday’s dust storm caused Lubbock’s air quality to plummet to one of the worst in the country, according to airnow.gov. The dust cloud may have caused flare-ups with people who struggle with allergies or Asthma.
With more wind expected in the coming days, medical professionals encouraged people to take precautions.
Dr. David Cuthbertson with Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of Lubbock, said staying inside is the ultimate way to keep allergens such as dirt and dust out of your system. However, if you have to go out, he suggested wearing a mask.
“Wearing a mask could be helpful, especially while you’re outside, when you get inside, you could take it off,” Cuthbertson said. “Staying on any medications that you’re on for those chronic illnesses, inhalers for asthma sprays and antihistamines for allergies, those would be very important to keep up during those times.”
Dr. Cuthbertson said those who suffer from respiratory illnesses or allergies to avoid going outside in poor air quality conditions.
Dr. Michael Dunn, the owner of Vision and Wellness Center, said your eyes should be protected as well, utilizing saline solution washouts and eye drops for contacts, as well as specialty tinted lenses. Dr. Dunn said those who wear contacts, should make sure they carry special lubricating drops, but stay away from any promising to get rid of redness.
“With contact lenses… the wind’s going to try to dry them out, the dust is going to get underneath them and make them really irritate your eyes,” Dunn said. “If your corneas are irritated and you use that kind of drop, it’s going to burn your eyes.”
“So, you would put them on lookout the window with them to see which you see the best with which is most comfortable,” said Dunn. “Usually, it’s going to be like copper. Some people, if they’re very light sensitive, think that it may be a Gray.”
Dr. Dunn recommended carrying a bag with your glasses, eye drops, and a contact case, in case you need to remove your contacts to flush your eyes out.
Dr. Cuthbertson says if you’re getting stuffed up, nasal irrigation systems or Neti Pots may give you the quickest relief.
“[It] will actually physically remove the dust particles and the allergens and the sort of offending agents from the nose as well as wash those out,” Cuthbertson said. “Some studies have shown those are as effective as antibiotics for first-line treatment for sinus infections. So, we’re big fans of the nasal sinus rinses.”
Dr. Cuthbertson said over-the-counter allergy medications can help alleviate symptoms, but to be careful with the dosage.
“Medicines are over the counter because the FDA has deemed them safe,” Cuthbertson said. “Patients with heart disease may have to be very cautious, especially with allergy medications that include decongestants, those can increase your blood pressure, so you have to be somewhat careful, but generic antihistamines Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra those are very well tolerated.
Dr. Cuthbertston recommended if over-the-counter medicine is not working, visit with your physician about a stronger prescription.