About ten days ago I started coughing. A lot.
It was strange because I only coughed when I was outdoors. I mentioned it to a friend who explained that I was reacting to the red tide. Heard of Karenia brevis? That’s the fancy name for the algae that live in the Gulf of Mexico whose toxic aerosols are blown ashore by the wind, turning our beach on the west coast of Florida into a cough-a-thon. It’s episodic and this, our visit here, is the first time we’ve experienced it.
Of course, I had heard the term red tide. But I never realized that it could irritate people’s lungs as well as harm fish. What I am finding out now is that it can make life pretty miserable for those of us escaping winter here. Right now, our swimming pool area sounds like a hospital ward for tuberculosis patients.
The cure: stay away from the shore or inside with air-conditioning if you can.
And hope that the wind changes.