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Reviewed on 6/12
By Dr. Tinkelman
David Tinkelman, MD
Medical Director, Health Initiatives
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A grim sign for some allergy and asthma sufferers appears as the summer begins to wind down: Ragweed and sagebrush pollens begin to show up for the first time in daily pollen counts. Those pollens are potent allergens for many people, causing them to suffer the itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezes of seasonal allergies or "hay fever", as well as causing their asthma to become worse.
Those people can expect their allergies and asthma to flare up for the months of August and September and possibly longer in different parts of the country. Ragweed and sagebrush pollen levels often persist until the first frost or beyond. It is difficult to predict how bad it will be or how long it will last.
Ragweed season can make allergy sufferers miserable if they don't take precautions. Here are several simple measures that can significantly reduce your suffering:
Start taking your medications early: Allergy medications work best if you take them before your immune system has revved up enough to make you miserable. Once the immune system is in high gear medications are less effective and take longer to relieve symptoms.
Get out early: Weed pollens are at their highest levels around midday. Do your gardening and other outdoor activities in the early morning.
Close your windows, even at night: Although the weed pollens may peak during midday, enough weed pollens continue floating in the air during the night to plague allergy sufferers. Turn on the air conditioning instead.
Wash your hands frequently: You can easily pick pollen up on your hands by touching door handles, running your hands through your hair or touching other outdoor surfaces. If you rub your eyes or nose with those pollen-covered hands, you can launch a full-blown allergy attack. Washing your hands reduces the chances that you will get pollen in your eyes or nose.
Beware of melons and bananas: People who are allergic to ragweed may feel a tingling or burning in their mouths after eating cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon or bananas. These fruits may cause these symptoms year-round, but are even more likely to do so during ragweed season.
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