AUSTIN (KXAN) - Ragweed pollen has been wreaking havoc on allergy sufferers the past few weeks. It may peak this week with pollen numbers the highest in years.
This, in part, is thanks to the unusually wet summer months.
"Right now we're in the 500 range, which is considered very high," said Dr. Amin Mery with the Westlake Dermatology and Allergy Clinic in Lakeway.
Last year the peak pollen count barely broke the 250s.
Ragweed season typically starts early September and peaks around the beginning of October. It will then drop down again until it pretty much goes away by the beginning of November, shortly before cedar season starts.
Those who suffer from Ragweed allergens typically have these symptoms:
- Breathing difficulty
- Chest pain
- Nasal Discharge
"It affects your entire airway. If you have exema or atopic dermatitis, allergic skin disorders, it can make that worse. It can affect asthma, sinus disease, any of those things," said Mery.
"I have been here since '83. But this has been the worst," said Francia Baez, who is a chronic ragweed sufferer. "I am one of those that can't take the shots unfortunately. I have to suffer."
And since Baez suffers from severerRagweed attacks, she resorts to herbs and natural products.
"Ginger, garlic and lemon and then you put in honey. The raw honey of the area," she said. "That's why I'm doing better today. We mixed it last night. Just a teaspoon and this morning another teaspoon. What a miracle."
Local honey has been touted as a treatment for ragweed because, it's believed, the bees gather pollen from the ragweed to make honey, and therefore by eating it, your body creates a natural resistance to the pollen. While it works for Baez, Mery thinks that may be a stretch.
"I have not seen that to be affective," he said. "You'd have to have bees that pollinate the certain plants and then making that honey specific to what is affecting that person."
Mery did say to avoid eating or drinking cow milk products.
"We're the only species on the planet that drinks milk from another animal," he said. "Dairy in anybody can increase mucus thickness."
For mild cases, over-the-counter medications should work.
For moderate to severe cases, a prescription or allergy shot may be needed.
Mery to prevent ragweed from becoming a problem in the home, avoid exposure.
"It's difficult to avoid ragweed since it's outside and people are very active," he said.
In that case:
- Take frequent showers, especially everytime you return indoors
- Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible
- Remove any outerwear that may have collected any pollen and wash it
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