People with ragweed allergies should start taking their allergy medication because ragweed pollen counts are expected to peak around Labor Day.

In case you haven’t already noticed, allergy sufferers, ragweed season is here.

Dr. Linda Ford, an allergist who tracks pollen counts, said ragweed pollen first showed up about the first week of August. But now pollen counts have increased and will continue to do so until they peak around Labor Day.

“Ragweed’s here, in big numbers,” said Ford, who operates the Asthma and Allergy Center in Bellevue. Symptoms include sneezing; itchy eyes, nose, ears and throat; watery eyes; runny nose; and congestion.

In addition, mold spore counts are very high, she said. Some of thatis because there are a lot of places in the area where standing water recently has receded — that’s where mold likes to grow.

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Those who began suffering allergy symptoms in early to mid-July, however, may have been reacting to cannabis pollen. Growing wild as ditchweed, it’s been around and bothering allergy sufferers for many years.

“It was the predominant pollen in our count,” Ford said. “It’s still pretty high, although it’s been overtaken by ragweed.”

All of that means it’s time for allergy sufferers to start taking their medications and practicing proper environmental controls.

Medications, most of which are available over the counter, include antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays such as Flonase.

Allergy sufferers also should avoid opening windows and doors at home and in the car, even when cooler evenings beckon.

Those who have been out gardening or mowing should shower and wash their hair and change clothes when they return indoors. Those who spend time outdoors should use a saline nasal rinse or spray afterward.

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Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.

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