by Donnalee Kudla

Ohhh, the time of year when my nose starts running, the head is pounding, and It seems I never have an adequate supply of clean tissues. (There are plenty of old ones wadded up in my purse and cupholder in my car, but their cleanliness is usually questionable).

For those of you out there who suffer from seasonal allergies, this all probably sounds all too familiar. Typically, spring and fall are the two major times of year that affect seasonal allergy sufferers. Fall seems to be worse for me, as the ragweed and grasses are major causes of distress.

Pollen levels are measured on a scale of 0-12. This time of year, in our area, we can usually expect levels to hit 8 on a daily level (med-high) and run as high as 11+ (high).
This means the levels are high enough to affect most individuals who have any kind of sensitivity to pollen.

As mentioned above, the two main irritants are ragweed, and grasses.  There are 17 widely-seen species of ragweed found in our area. They range in size from a couple of inches to 12 ft. tall. It is everywhere – along roadsides, edges of fields, and the edge of riverbanks to name a few. Flowering occurs late summer (NOW!) and pollen develops once temperatures become lower that 60 degrees and the evenings are longer (ALSO NOW!)

The list of grasses classified as allergens runs over 100 in number. Roughly 20% of these are considered severe allergens, and affect us in much the same way as ragweed. Their prime pollination time is NOW, as well. You really don’t need me to tell you that, I’m sure. Just sniff. The nose knows….

So… relief? There are so many over the counter drugs available today, most in non-drowsy formulas. How many of you can relate to the Benadryl fog one used to experience during allergy seasons before Zyrtec, Claratin, and the like? I believe I missed a good portion of my childhood due to this.

There is not much you can do to avoid having a bad allergy day, unless you are the boy in the bubble. Most of us cannot (nor do we wish to) stay indoors on days  when the pollen counts are high. So, avoiding running in fields (I have no problem cutting this activity from my life….) and limiting outdoor activities (maybe round up other allergy prone friends and plan an indoor activity – like SHOPPING! – yes, that is a plan!) will help to alleviate symptoms, but there is really no avoiding them all together. So, pack up the tissues – clean, fresh ones, preferably – and figure out which OTC medication helps the most, and look forward to that first frost as the point when seasonal allergies abate.

I wonder if I can claim “shopping due to allergies” as a medical expense on my tax return?…..

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