During harmattan, the air is cold and dry.  You may experience dry skin and broken lips. You may also find it difficult to bathe in cold water. Although the body has adaptive mechanisms that help reduce the effects of cold, it is only wise to take care of ourselves in order to prevent infections and keep warm. During this period, cough is usually prevalent due to the dry dirty air inhaled from the surroundings. A cough is not bad in itself- it is the body’s compensatory mechanism of expelling irritants from the respiratory tract. However, if this cough becomes symptomatic, you should take the necessary measures.  Here are simple tips to help you go through this harmattan season in Nigeria.

  1. Drink honey and lemon dissolved in warm water: This will help to soothe the dry irritated areas of the throat and give you the comfort you need. Honey is a natural remedy for a sore throat and cough. You can also use the honey by spreading it in a snack or putting in tea/coffee as it suits you. This is an effective relief for cold and cough
  2. Take enough water: It is advisable to increase fluid intake at this time to reduce dehydration caused by extreme dryness of the air. Simply ensure you have a bottle of water with you at all times to increase the motility of mucus. Warm drinks like tea or coffee will help provide you with warmth to fight cold.
  3. Drink ginger tea: Ginger has a whole number of benefits. Some of these include soothing common cold and hastening recovery process. This warm ginger drink helps to treat the common cold, drying running nose and expelling phlegm from dried irritated areas of the respiratory tract.
  4. Practice salt and water gaggle: This is an old age therapy done in case of sore throat, cough and the common cold. Simply dissolve half teaspoonful of salt into a cup of water. Hold back the water in the mouth towards the back of the throat while you gargle without swallowing. You can repeat this in the morning and evening before bed. This will relieve the irritation and reduce the cough reflex.
  5. Steam inhalation: Inhaling warm air helps to clear the airways. It does this by draining secretions from the respiratory tract thereby making airway patent in the stiff nose.
  6. Eat fruits and veggies: These are good sources of vitamins and minerals. They contain a high water content which helps to reduce dehydration caused by the dry air this period. The fruit also helps fight infections and build immunity against a chronic cough and other infections associated with common cold.
  7. Practice hand hygiene: This helps to reduce the spread of germs a great deal. It is important to practice hand washing regularly to prevent contamination of food we eat or objects we come in contact with.

    See Also: What are common cold symptoms?


  8. Wear the right clothes: Wearing the right clothes in the right weather helps to prevent common cold and cough. Thick and heat absorbable clothes keep heat released from the body trapped inside and limit radiation of heat to the surroundings. Hand gloves and well-covered shoes also provide enough warmth that you need.
  9. Skin care: People usually develop cracked lips and skin during this harmattan period. The following can help protect the integrity of your skin and prevent dryness.
  • Good body moisturizers can be used to prevent dryness of the skin. They are easily absorbable and increase the hydration of the skin. Other home-made moisturizers are:
    • Olive oil: This contains many fatty acids and healthy fat that are good for your skin. You can apply this to the skin after taking your bath to reduce skin dryness.
    • Creams with milk content: Are excellent moisturizers as they help to exfoliate dry skin and give room for the rejuvenation of new skin cells to replace worn ones.
  • You can apply coconut oil to your skin after taking your bath. It is absorbable and it makes your skin smooth and soft.
  • Foods like beans, carrots, tomatoes and peas with anti-oxidants and omega3 fatty acids e.g. salmon help to repair damaged cells and contribute to a glowing skin
  • For dried lips, Vaseline and balms are good to prevent breaking lips if used regularly.

If you adhere to the measures above, this season would be a blessing than a curse.

 

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