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Archive for Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall allergies worse in Douglas County area this year

September 16, 2013

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Many people in the Lawrence area may have noticed an increase in allergy symptoms lately.

That's because allergen levels have been on the rise as the calendar gets nearer to fall and because of a strong growing season that boosted weed growth.

"Weed pollen and mold spores have been quite high for a few weeks, so many people are suffering," said Warren Frick, a physician at Asthma Allergy Associates in Lawrence, adding that the Lawrence area is also affected by such allergens as Russian thistle, pigweed, mugwort and sage.

Pollen levels were classified as "very high" last week in Lawrence, according to Weather.com. Usually by this time of year the region has experienced its peak of ragweed pollen levels, Children's Mercy in Kansas City, Mo., reported. Not so this year, as several more high ragweed days are expected in the coming weeks, with the season lasting into mid-October.

"Most plants did well this year — weeds included — because we had a wetter, cooler spring and early summer," said Bill Wood, director of Douglas County Extension. "It wasn't until the last part of August that it got really hot."

The increased allergens are causing itchy, watery eyes, runny noses, coughing and wheezing for those susceptible to seasonal allergies, who make up about 20 percent of the population, Frick said. They can avoid symptoms when levels are this high by staying inside with the windows closed and air conditioning running, particularly in the late morning.

Treatment options include over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec and over-the-counter anti-allergy nasal spray and eye drops. "If those don't work, they need to seek a prescription for a stronger medicine," Frick said.

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