Saharan dust causing allergy problems for North Texans

Dust from the Sahara Desert is drifting over North Texas for a second time this year.

DFW Airport towercam normally provides a clear view of Downtown Dallas. But the dust on Tuesday blocked the view of the skyline.

All the dust is even causing problems for some people. Sneezing, wheezing, and runny noses are something North Texans are used to seeing around springtime, but not in the middle of summer. Doctors say Saharan dust could be to blame. Some local hospitals are even seeing an uptick in allergy cases because of it.

Allergies have been acting up for many North Texans, and medications don’t seem to work.

Erika Gallagher is a surgical tech at Methodist Dallas. But on Tuesday, she was in the patient chair.

“It's uncomfortable,” she said. “It's a 100 and something degrees outside and you can't breathe. Stuffy and hot. It's miserable.”

Like many others, Gallagher is suffering from allergies she started noticing a couple days ago when the haze from Saharan dust settled over Texas.

“Runny nose. My throat. I feel like I have a summer cold. I feel drainage in my throat,” she said.

Dr. Rajiv Pandit at Methodist Dallas has noticed more patients coming to them for help.

“We've noticed an increase in phone calls of patients wanting to come in because they don't know it's the Saharan Desert,” he said. “What they know is that they have nasal congestion. They have post-nasal drip. They're sneezing more.”

Dr. Pandit says they've seen about a 25 percent increase in calls and expect more throughout the week. He recommends saline spray, air purifiers and nasal irrigation to take care of mild symptoms. But for those with underlying issues, it may be more serious.

“Especially patients that have a history of asthma or emphysema,” the doctor said. “It can be life threatening. So they need to be close to their inhalers.”

Doctors at Texas Health Resources say they've also seen an increase in allergy cases because of the Saharan dust. Doctors recommend limiting time outside. And if over the counter medications don't work or symptoms get worse, go see a doctor.