Why ragweed has beaten the drought, making life miserable for allergy sufferers

Why you can and should act now for mountain cedar season

As they say, “timing is everything,” and no one knows that more than an allergy sufferer, who right now is dealing with a big dose of ragweed.

SAN ANTONIO – As they say, “timing is everything,” and no one knows that more than an allergy sufferer, who right now is dealing with a big dose of ragweed.

It may be the driest year on record so far and we may be in a nearly year-long drought. But while our lawns and crops are dried out, ragweed still is going strong.

Dr. Amanda Trout-Gregorio, is owner and an immunologist at Juniper Allergy, who suffers from a juniper allergy and treats many seasonal allergy patients, says ragweed is not hard to find this year, unfortunately.

“You know, these ugly plants that plague us with their pollen find a way to survive, grow, and proliferate with very little rain. So, you know, there is a lot of it out there,” she said.

Ragweed usually begins to grow around the start of the school year and peaks around November. And this year because of the drought, it’s thought that the ragweed pollens will be blowing around more than usual in these dry conditions. And then there’s climate change, too.

“We’ve seen warmer air and longer growing seasons. Because of that, there’s more carbon dioxide in the air, leading to longer pollen seasons,” Trout-Gregorio said.

For all these reasons and more, San Antonio ranked again this year as the 5th worst city in the country for allergies.

Trout-Gregorio recommends that your first line of defense is to get allergy tested so you know what you’re allergic to, know what to get treated for and when to get that treatment. For instance, mountain cedar season hits in December, but you will need to start allergy shots beforehand.

“It’s a real joy to see these patients right now who are preparing for that by desensitizing ahead of the severe season. So, that doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a process that takes a few weeks. So, if we can build that immunity against allergens before the heavy season, that’s ideal,” Trout-Gregorio said.

She doesn’t find as much success with the over-the-counter allergy drops, saying there’s not enough allergen in them to make a difference.

If you’re already in the throes of ragweed allergies there are three things you can and should buy right now: nasal steroid spray (which takes a few days to get effective, so be patient), an over-the-counter antihistamine like Zyrtec (they start right away), and finally a daily nasal wash to rinse all that pollen out of your nose every day.

As for your daily cleaning routines, make sure your cleaning cloths and vacuums are equipped with HEPA quality fibers and filters. Also, if you’re really serious about keeping pollens out of your house before entering your living areas, remove your shoes, put your clothes directly in the washer, and take a shower to wash the pollens off. Your outdoor pets also need cleaning before coming indoors, too.

Also on KSAT:

About the Author:

Ursula Pari has been a staple of television news in Texas at KSAT 12 News since 1996 and a veteran of broadcast journalism for more than 30 years.