August 18, 2006
Allergy season is starting again and that's bad news for people allergic to ragweed. Allergists believe this ragweed season will be the worst it's been in 50 years.
Millions of Americans are allergic to the ragweed plant. It carries pollen throughout the air, and causes people to suffer from hayfever.
"We haven't had rain for the last 6-8 weeks. We have only had spouts here and there, and of course that is what's making the yellow flowers grow," said Dr. Narinder Arora, of the Pulmonary Allergy Clinic.
A single ragweed plant contains a billion pollen grains and they can travel up to 700 miles in the wind. It ends up in the eyes, nose, mouth, and even lungs of those who are allergic.
Allergy specialists like Dr. Arora said the average allergy sufferer will feel it right away.
"Itchy eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose, sneezing," said Steven Werner, an allergy sufferer.
Dr. Arora said prevention is the key. Over-the-counter antihistamines and eye drops can help and if worse comes to worse stronger medicines such as nasal steroids can be used.
"I had several inhalers which I had to use every three hours," said Werner.
For those who know they're going to be outside during peak pollen hours, between 5 a.m. and 10 a .m., Dr. Arora recommends you bring a type of allergy emergency kit with you.
"One should also keep an emergency inhaler and a nebulizer at home. At the same time those who react in the seasons of spring and fall should also be tested by an allergist," said Dr. Arora.
Testing could reveal a ragweed allergy you never knew you had.
This year the ragweed season started two weeks early. It will continue until November.