Allergies in Dakar 101

Wherever you choose to live in Dakar- one thing remains consistent in this vibrant city. The sand and the dust! What does this mean for you? This means to come prepared - with allergy medications, sleep medications, and a preferred allergy specialist already picked out upon arrival. Come with ALL of your medications well stocked, for you and your children.

Upon my arrival March 2019, my body and health were great! My nasal passages were clear, my vision was crisp, and morning walks/runs were done effortlessly. As my body adjusted and realized we indeed were NOT on vacation, but intended to stay much longer- she (my body) had a complete and utter meltdown- My nasal passages closed, my eyes swelled up, my vision became blurry, and those movie-like scenes of running on the beach came to a screeching halt!

My energy was completely depleted and I was exhausted 24/7. I came prepared for the absolute worse, so I consulted my stash of Zyrtec, Allegra, and Benadryl. I quickly realized I needed to seek professional assistance in combating the allergies in my new environment.

I was recommended to Dr. Ali Bedredine who specializes in Allergy relief. I gave him a visit, and long behold I was diagnosed with severe Allergic Rhinitis. I was prescribed 3 nasal medications and a follow-up appointment for a blood test to pin-point the exact cause of the flare ups.

The medications prescribed fortunately relieved my symptoms. I was advised to stay indoors around the highest pollution times, in order to combat some of the difficulties I was having. He also advised me to use an air purifier, and when in traffic to use the car conditioning systems to purify the air- to which I happily obliged! I was ready to try anything,to make that feeling less miserable.

According to an article published in the New York Times, The Harmattan dust “It’s a real problem for respiratory diseases,” said Nafissatou Oumar Toure Badiane, the chief of pulmonology at Fann University Hospital in Dakar, who noted that the number of childhood asthma cases at one of the city’s biggest hospitals had recently jumped. She estimated that a third of the population has some kind of lung ailment. And there are signs that air quality here is getting worse.’’

Here is a list of recommendations to combat the dust:

  1. Purchase and bring quality air purifiers with you. These are very difficult to find in Dakar.

  2. Seal windows and doors as much as possible to keep out dust and then run an air purifier.

  3. Follow-La Météo Dakaroise de Riad for weather updates. For example, “dust blowing in this afternoon and evening,’’ so we can close up windows.

  4. When traveling in a vehicle always use the air conditioning system as a filter.

  5. Avoid being outdoors during high pollution times, typically from about 4pm until 8pm. If you must travel during high pollution times, wear a mask.

  6. If accustomed to exercising outdoors, look into joining a gym during these months.

  7. Wash items in the bedrooms regularly - curtains, mosquito nets and bed covers so dust does not sit long. Move dressers/closets/beds and clean thoroughly everyday- do not have any carpets in bedrooms- instead use foam mats that can be wiped and washed regularly.

  8. Use vaseline or Shea butter to line the inside of your nose while sleeping; this allows particles to stick onto them instead of traveling into your system.

  9. Listen to your body- Seek professional care immediately if symptoms persist.

  10. Air purifying plants outside and inside your home.

I share my experience not to scare you, but to inform and encourage you to reach out to an allergy specialist if you are experiencing any dust/pollution related issues, as they may be able to provide better solutions much faster than self-diagnosing and depleting your stash of medications.

Niofar Executive Relocation can provide you recommendations and referrals for any condition or need, as well as to help you understand overall healthcare in Senegal. You also may have questions on your health insurance plan, and how this works with local providers. Just reach out and let us know!

SO for now, that is all. I wish you the best allergy relief in Dakar. A positive outlook will always heed the most positive results.