Late November to mid-march of every year usually comes with a season shaped by cold, hazy weather, atmospheric dust and dryness which is known as harmattan. Harmattan is a season in easterly or north-easrterly wind on the West Africa coast. It brings desert like weather conditions that usually carries large amount of dust, this dust often interferes with local aircraft operators.
It lowers humidity, dispel cloud cover, prevents rainfall formation and sometimes creates big clouds of dust which can result in dust storms or sandstorms.
The season practically affects the health of individual in one way or the other. The health effects of harmattan may include dryness of the skin and eyes, cold, cough and might also exasperate asthma. The dry dusty air can also worsen cardiovascular disease, the drop of humidity to as low as 15% can also result to spontaneous nosebleeds for some people.
Since harmattan is associated with dryness then the main focus should be on how to stay hydrated and moist as much as we could. How do we stay healthy (hydrated) and cold free this period?.
One, by drinking lot of water. Water consumption has no limit and should be taken quite often to sustain life. During this season, the body is dehydrated, that is lot of water is lost and the best way to replace it, is to drink more of it (water). As this will not only keep you hydrated but will also help to regulate your body temperature, lubricate the joints, maintain blood pressure, carries nutrient and oxygen to cells and also make you to glow effortlessly.
Two, eat fruits and vegetables mostly those with high water content and essential nutrients (vitamins and minerals) that would go a long way in fighting infections caused by harmattan and also help to build and boosts immunity.
Fruits and vegetables such as pineapples, orange, grapes, strawberries, cucumber, carrots, eggplants, tomatoes, okro which carries at least 80 – 90% water content each. Also, leafy vegetables such as malabar spinach (amunutu), water leaf( gbure), Lagos spinach(shoko), scent leaf (efinrin) would also go a long way to keep you hydrated.
Three, drinking hot tea,chocolates and eating hot food can also help to fight the cold weather, taking hot pepper soups too will also keep you warm. However drinks that are high in caffeine should be discouraged in order not to aggravate dehydration.
Other ways to stay healthy this period is by wearing cover up clothes to prevent cold, wearing of nose masks to prevent dust which causes infection, application of lip balms to protect the lips from been cracked. We should also wash our food items thoroughly most especially fruits and vegetables and our hands to wipe off dust that might cause infections.
Lastly,the skin being one of the sense organs of any weather should be given proper attention during harsh weather like harmattan where there is dryness of the skin. It is advisable to moisturize the skin by uisng oil-based moisturizer such as Vaseline, coconut oil or Shea butter.