Return of ragweed: as summer ends, allergy season begins - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Return of ragweed: as summer ends, allergy season begins


By Mark O'Brien

ALBANY -- As summer winds down, allergy season ramps up.

It is something Becky Glazier knows all about.  She's been an allergy sufferer for more than four years.

"I'm allergic to pollen, trees, and weeds," Glazier says as she gets her two annual allergy shots Wednesday morning.  "It's annoying to have to go blow your nose every five seconds."

Certified allergist Dr. David Shulan also knows ragweed season well.  He used to suffer from the allergy himself, but symptoms waned after years of shots.  Still, he learned first-hand how severe reactions can be while attending school in the Midwest.

"One student ended up on a ventilator with severe asthma from ragweed," Shulan says.  He's currently a specialist with Certified Allergy and Asthma Consultants.

Fortunately for the Capital Region, Dr. Shulan says even at its peak, this year's ragweed season is pretty moderate or average.  He says it is all thanks to the weather, specifically northerly winds blowing fewer pollen grains to our area, more rain to wash the pollen out of the sky, and a chill in the air.

"Cooler temperatures will make the plants do their thing a little bit more slowly," Shulan explains.

In fact, data from Certified Allergy and Asthma Consultants show that this week, the ragweed pollen count has averaged 20.  High is considered anything above 50.  Even though last week averaged just under 40, the average for the entire month of August was only 15-low enough for even the worst allergy sufferers to notice.

"Right now it hasn't bothered me," Gina Van Praag says, "but tomorrow could be totally different."  Van Praag is affected by pollen, ragweed, mold, pet dander, and a number of other allergens.  To mute the symptoms she takes an over-the-counter medication every night.

However, recent research indicates traditional allergens might not be the only reason for many people's reactions.  A study from the Ohio State Medical Center found that people under stress-anything from being overworked to losing a job-are four times likelier to have extreme allergic reactions.

But as Dr. Shulan points out, the end is in sight for many sufferers this time of the year.

"By September 15th, there's very little ragweed in the air," Shulan says.

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