Martha Jefferson Healthwise -- September 9th

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

September 11, 2009

Ragweed season has started, which means, sneezing, congestion, difficulty sleeping, asthma attacks, and itchy skin, eyes, nose, or throat for people with this pollen allergy.

Joining CBS19 for this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise to talk about this allergy and if there is any relief, is Dr. Gretchen Beck of Blue Ridge Allergy & Asthma.

***Click on the video link to watch the full interview with Cheryn Stone***

Full script of the interview:

Dr. Beck: Ragweed is one of the most common causes of hay fever. When we say "ragweed", we are actually referring to about 15 different species in the sunflower family, which blooms from mid-August through October.

Cheryn Stone: Why is it such a common allergy?

Dr. Beck: The pollen from the ragweed plant is extremely potent. Each ragweed plant produces about a billion pollen grains per season, and these tiny grains can travel up to 400 miles. Another problem with ragweed is that it's everywhere-in fields, along roadsides, and even in abundance in vacant urban lots.

Cheryn Stone: What can ragweed allergy sufferers do to relieve their symptoms?

Dr. Beck: Well, now is the time to see your doctor if you are low on your allergy prescriptions. Be sure you have a supply of nasal steroids or oral antihistamines for times when your allergies flare up. You may consider allergy shots, which can be effective for up to 90 percent of patients who are allergic to ragweed. Some over-the-counter options, such as Claritin or Zyrtec are also worth trying.

Cheryn Stone: is there anything else we can do to minimize suffering?

Dr. Beck: As nice as it may be to feel a cool breeze, the pollen you allow to enter your home or car when you open your windows will definitely make your symptoms worse.

You can shower in the evening to eliminate any pollen that you may have tracked into the house and make sure you don't get that pollen on your pillow when you're trying to sleep. Also, bathe your pets often. You may not be allergic to your dog or cat, but they do track pollen into the house.

Finally, check the pollen counts in the area and try to avoid going outdoors too much on days when they are high. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology has a resource on their website

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