Allergy Sufferers Can Beat The Dreaded Ragweed

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

Allergist Jason White tells us what's bringing so many people into his office this time of year: the dreaded ragweed. Put it up against a black background and you can see why. Each plant can produce one-billion pollen grains that can travel for up to 400 miles. So even city dwellers can get the itchy eyes, stuffy noses or worse. "Many people with allergies don't realize how bad they feel and allergies cause inflammation inside their noses. Once that inflammation is set up, their noses don't work right and they can't fight off infections as well as they might otherwise be able to do."

To limit your exposure to pollen, keep your windows closed at home and in the car, and keep the air conditioner on - it will help filter pollen. When you do venture out, wear wrap-around sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes, and a hat to keep pollen out of your hair. When you come back in, change your clothes. And try to avoid rubbing your eyes, it just causes further swelling and redness.

Dr. White says prescription antihistamines can relieve symptoms temporarily without drowsiness. Allergy shots can provide a permanent solution. "We give you small amounts of the things you're allergic to, so that your body begins to ignore those allergies and over time doesn't make the inflammation and the mucus, so you feel better without needing medications."

The worst allergy sufferers should avoid being outside when ragweed is most likely to release pollen, between the hours of 10:00 and 4:00. This plant will no longer be a menace after the first frost.

Eighty percent of patients with seasonal allergies experience sleep problems which can lead to fatigue, loss of concentration and poor performance at work or school.

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