Ragweed “growing like crazy” as allergy season starts

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Friday is a red letter day for allergy sufferers. August 15 is the start of ragweed season.

Children's Mercy Hospital reports those pesky ragweed plants in the Kansas City area are developing pollen, and in the next week, they'll release it for the annual assault on the nose and eyes. There's a little pollen already in the air that's been carried by winds from Oklahoma, said Dr. Henry Kanarek, an Overland Park allergist.

"With the winds we expect, the ragweed growing like crazy, we will have a very busy year for ragweed," predicted Dr. Kanarek.

Becky Ohl is arming herself. She's been getting allergy shots since January to build immunity to ragweed and other allergens.

"Hopefully this year with the allergy shots I've been receiving, then they won't be as bad this year," said Ohl.

What's new this year? A ragweed pill that dissolves under the tongue. It also builds immunity. But it's too late to start that therapy for this season.

"You need to take it early in the summer, take it every day all the way through the ragweed season," said Dr. Kanarek.

Those with less severe symptoms can count on relief with over-the-counter antihistamines. And one popular steroid nasal spray, Nasacort, recently went over-the-counter. A prescription is no longer necessary.

"And you can use two sprays once a day and that needs to be started right away because it takes a few weeks for it to really provide its benefit," said the allergist.

Yes, you want to be ready as ragweed's assault starts. It won't peak until September.

Children's Mercy says it's time to start avoidance strategies. Close windows and use air conditioning. Also put clothes in the laundry, and shower as soon as you come home for the day.

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