September 12, 2005-- Posted at 2:50 PM CDT
(HealthDay News) -- Allergy sufferers, prepare yourselves -- ragweed pollen season is upon us, delivering bouts of sneezing and itchy, watery eyes for the more than 36 million Americans with hay fever.
Ragweed starts blooming in mid-August and is responsible for more than $3 billion annually in lost production, medications and doctor visits, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
But the allergic can do more than just rage against ragweed. The academy recommends that sufferers:
- Commence taking medication 10 to 14 days prior to the onset of ragweed season.
- Consult with an allergist before using herbal supplements or other alternative therapies, as they can have potentially serious side effects.
- Consider allergy shots if medications do not provide adequate relief.
- Continue treatment for two to three weeks after the season ends, to decrease nasal hyper-reactivity that may persist after pollen exposure has ended.
And if allergy symptoms still get out of control, don't wait -- see an allergist/immunologist.
"Studies have shown that those who get prompt medical attention make fewer visits to emergency rooms and are better able to manage their symptoms," Dr. Bruce S. Bochner, director of the division of allergy and clinical immunology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, said in a prepared statement.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has more about outdoor allergens (www.aaaai.org ).
SOURCE: Johns Hopkins University, news release, Sept. 6, 2005