Fighting hay fever without medicine

September 19, 2009 1:33:48 PM PDT
How did this allergy caused by ragweed pollen get the moniker "hay fever'" when it's not caused by hay and doesn't give you a fever? I don't think sufferers puzzle over this question when their eyes water in the middle of a sneezing fit. But before they reach for medicines, how about some simple, non-drug help?

This is a story of the plant, ragweed, also called ragus weedus.

Actress Lorraine Goodman plays the same leading role each September of ragweed sufferer.

"I start sneezing a little more. My eyes get watery, and I think yeah, ragweed," she said.

But not so fast to the pills and allergy shots. Lorraine is staging a fight with some simple weapons. First, know when to avoid the outdoors. Here's a hint: plants release their pollen after absorbing the morning dew.

The observation that people have that walking out in the morning on their way to work is the worst time of day is correct. That is when the pollen is high," Dr. Michael Chandler of Mt. Sinai Medical Center said.

So the best time to walk the dog? Early afternoon. Lorraine's pooch gets special treatment afterward.

"Probably once a week he'll get a bath, and I do brush him out after walks so that any pollen that is sticking there is removed that way," she explained.

A bath for Lorraine as well will get the pollen out of her hair. The air conditioner should get a cleaning, too. A new air filter will do wonders to scrub pollen from the air. Now, turn on AccuWeather.

A day like today, dry with a little wind is bad for sufferers. That's when ragweed plants release their pollen.

A good rain will wash the pollen out of the air. And Lorraine's script includes water, too. It's the last act in Lorraine's yearly drama -- over the counter salt water sprays for the nose.

"The pollen gets in there and stuck in there and this cleans it out," she said

The pollen count trend over several days will at least tell you when the four weeks of hay fever season are coming to an end. It's more important to watch AccuWeather's futurecast over the week to plan your pollen-free outings.

By the way, ragweed's plant name is not really ragus weedus. It's ambrosia artemis-ee-ee-folia.

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