Hay fever season around the corner

August 10, 2011 2:44:36 PM PDT
Runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing in the middle of august can mean hay fever season has begun. Are you waiting for symptoms before you start your hay fever pills? You may be waiting too long.

It's not due to hay and there's no fever with this allergy to ragweed pollen. Some of us will be miserable beginning this week when the season begins. The time to begin treatment may be before you're consumed by symptoms, and there are some foods to stay away from as well.

Marilyn Johnson is a barometer for the start of hay fever season. It even makes her asthma worse.

"I don't want to be outside, i feel shortness of breath, itching, and i always want to get back into the air conditioning," Johnson said.

Ragweed pollen is what the air conditioner is filtering out. From the middle of august until the first frost kills the plants, the pollen can fill the air on windy days. Allergist Dr. David Rosenstreich says if the season is anything like the spring allergy season, watch out.

"It turned out to be the worst allergy season in my experience in New York," Dr. Rosensteich said.

Meaning symptoms may be the worst a sufferer has felt in a while. A good thing these newer antihistamines that don't make you sleepy are now available over the counter.

If you have hay fever, certain spices and melons are something to watch out for.

Watermelons, honeydews and cantaloupes have proteins that can react like those in ragweed. Herbs are basically tasty weeds, so spices such as thyme, rosemary and oregano can have similar chemicals to ragweed and cause swelling in the lips, mouth and tongue, even the windpipe. These self-injected doses of adrenaline can save your life if that happens. If you use antihistamines pills to reduce symptoms, you might start them before sneezing begins.

"Take your medicines don't wait to get sick, these antihistamines work better if you take them before you have symptoms. So once the season starts it's a good idea to take the antihistamine every day," Dr. Rosensteich said.

There are nasal sprays for sneezing and a runny nose, and eye drops for tearing related to hay fever. There are cortisone inhalers for wheezing and a tight chest that may mean asthma is a part of the problem. If the over the counter pills are not enough to get you feeling better, check with your doctor.