Hay fever season is here!

NEW YORK The plants are covered with pretty yellow pollen, not so good looking if it gives you a runny nose and itchy eyes. Over the counter and prescription pill can give relief, but sometimes, a stronger potion is needed.

Forty-year-old Liz Serkin was getting allergy shots on Wednesday. It's called immunotherapy and it helps the body's immune system reduce a patient's sensitivity to ragweed pollen. Liz found her allergy pills were not helping.

"The pills were not doing the trick, and I thought the shots would be better to desensitize me," she said.

It's true that over the counter allergy drugs may stop working after a couple years. But even prescription antihistamines may not be the answer when the ragweed allergy goes beyond sniffles and red eyes. For Doreen Lobelle, hay fever season triggered her asthma.

"My asthma was controlled a couple of months ago, but once ragweed season kicked in it got worse," Lobelle said.

Because Liz was getting sinus infections and because of Doreen's asthma ragweed shots may be best for both of them. The triggering pollen will be around until the first frost kills the plants.

Though there's only a moderate amount of ragweed pollen in the air, by the weekend the levels will be high.

Winds can blow the pollen over four hundred miles, so the city is no safer than the countryside. Taught about safe, people who suffer badly should stay away from six foods that make symptoms worse.

  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Honeydew melons
  • Watermelons
  • Chamomile tea
  • For the worst symptoms, shots may be a salvation. But even if you start this season, the therapy takes some time to work and the effect is not immediate.

    "But for the next season, for patients who are allergic, I can definitely desensitize them and get great results," Dr. Evelyn Tolston said.

    People with hay fever suffer into the early fall, and sometimes, symptoms can be bad with muscle aches and coughing. Hay fever might then be confused with the flu, but Dr. Tolston advises that, despite its name, hay fever doesn't cause a fever, as does the flu.

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