The salt put down on icy and snowy roads serves an important purpose. Be aware that breathing in the fine salt dust stirred up by vehicle traffic can cause problems to your health. The dust can be both irritating as well as dehydrating to the sinuses, eyes, throat and lungs. At first, you may think you are coming down with a cold because you experience head congestion and even coughing. It could, however, be a reaction to your inhaling too much salt dust.
Here are suggestions to help you counteract the effects of over-inhalation of salt dust.
- Observe where you walk. Wear a dust mask or wrap a scarf over nose/mouth if you see clouds of dust in the air as traffic goes by. Avoid major avenues as much as you are able.
- Sip water frequently so that you drink at least several ounces each hour to help ease congestion and coughing. This maintains hydration.
- Use an expectorant to help clear lungs and throat to reduce persistent coughing or coughing fits.
- For head congestion due to this problem, try a saline mist to help wash out sinuses or do steam inhalations to assist sinus drainage.
- Wash hair if heavily exposed. Vacuum outerwear and launder clothing that may be impregnated with salt dust.
- Rinse your eyes and eyelids if you are exposed to salt dust.
Infants, young children and older adults may experience more severe symptoms and are often unaware of this potential problem.