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Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2001

Itchy eyes, watery nose? The answer is blowin’ in the wind

September 8, 2001

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It's that time of year. Thanks to an abundance of ragweed, allergy sufferers are searching for ways to relieve their symptoms.

Watery eyes, itchy nose, congestion and sneezing all are signs of ragweed season.








To reduce exposure to ragweed:Stay inside between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when pollen dispersal peaks. The best time for people with allergies to perform outside activities is after a rainfall.Shower and wash hair immediately after coming in from outside activities, and especially before going to bed. This will remove any pollen on the skin and hair. Wash clothing that was worn outside in hot water.Keep windows and doors closed. Use an air conditioner instead of open windows or attic fans, which can bring in pollen.Dry sheets or clothing inside, not outdoors on a clothesline. Pollen can collect on these items.Avoid irritants such as insect sprays, tobacco smoke and air pollution. They can aggravate symptoms.For more information about ragweed allergies, see allergies.about.com/cs/ragweed/.

Dr. Roxana Voica, an allergist at the Lawrence Medical Plaza, said ragweed season started in early August and is in full force. The season can last into early October, typically ending with the first frost.

Ragweed is a wild plant or weed that grows abundantly in the Midwest. It's also a powerful plant.

One weed is capable of producing approximately 1 billion grains of pollen that are assisted by hot, humid and windy weather.

Winds can carry pollen as far as 400 miles, so plants don't necessarily have to be nearby to trigger allergy symptoms.

"During this time of year, the ragweed plant pollinates, so it releases small grains of pollens into the air," Voica said. "Those are taken by the wind and basically they get to peoples' noses or lungs."

For relief, Voica said allergy sufferers should try to stay inside as much as possible.

Medication is an option for people who work outside or are outdoor enthusiasts.

Over-the-counter antihistamines are available, but they may cause sedation or drowsiness. Prescription medications typically don't cause as many side effects.

Allergy injections are a long-term option. Voica said injections help people with allergies build their tolerance levels, but it can take three to five years to complete a full course.

Unfortunately, allergies can cause more than discomfort for sufferers.

"If their nose is blocked, they may have difficulty concentrating," Voica said. "They cannot rest well at night and they wake up fatigued in the morning. So there are some secondary effects that you get from the primary allergy."

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