Parents should watch air quality this weekend if children have breathing problems

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ST. LOUIS – Heat and humidity are back in full force; plus, storm chances threaten weekend plans. On top of that, the cloud of Saharan dust on the way could lower our air quality this weekend.

Parents need to keep an eye on the air quality forecast, especially if their children already have problems with breathing like asthma, upper respiratory allergies, or allergic rhinitis.

But first, we need to remember that there’s always particulate matter in the air, such as dust, pollen, and mold. It’s just not something we are always aware of. We tend to notice problems depending on how much of these things are in the air.

SLU Care Pediatrician Dr. Ken Haller with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital says that if your kid already has a sensitivity to dust then they may get a stuffy nose, have more sneezing, their eyes may be watery and prone to redness, and a post nasal drip may lead to some coughing.

At times like these, whatever you are already doing, you need to keep doing.

“In general, hydration is very important. The more you drink, the more it keeps the mucus in the nose thin. The more it keeps all those membranes hydrated so it can better handle any particulate matter that you’re breathing in. One thing that can be helpful, particularly for young kids and babies is a saltwater nasal spray or a saline nasal spray,” said Dr. Haller.

Dr. Haller also says the air conditioning is very helpful because it filters the air and gets rid of some of those particles that may cause a problem.

People with asthma or those who are on everyday medicines need to make sure they are taking them, even if they feel fine. Make sure you have rescue medicine on hand if you’re having a problem with wheezing or coughing.

As for plans this weekend?

“One of the things about smaller kids is that the smaller your nose, the smaller your air passages, the more easily they can get clogged up with dust and mucus that reacts to that dust. So, this may be a time to plan indoor activities for younger kids. Try to keep them amused with things inside rather than taking them outside if it does look like this dust cloud is causing a big problem and adversely affecting air quality,” Dr. Haller said.

With storms in the forecast this weekend, it’s already a good idea to make indoor plans, or at least have that backup plan. Also, if we get some rain, it will help wash that dust out of the atmosphere.

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