Ragweed Pollen Count Highest in a Decade

Posted: Sep 21, 2010 9:34 AM

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COLUMBIA - Officials at the St. Louis Department of Health said the ragweed pollen count is the highest it has been in a decade.
So far, August and September have had 12 days where the pollen count was well over the normal range for this time of year. The worst year for ragweed pollen sufferers was in 2000 when 17 days from August to September had pollen counts greater than 100 ragweed grains per cubic meter of air.

Gary Johnson has suffered from allergies for the past 25 years.

"I've been allergic to dog hair, cat hair, dust, hay fever, ragweed," Johnson said.

He's received an allergy shot for the past 15 years. But this year, he opted out of the shot. Since then, Johnson said his symptoms have been so bad, he actually got sick. Now, an allergy-related sinus infection has spread to his lungs. "It's miserable. You have a headache, you feel bad, you ache, your ears are clogged, your throat hurts and you wheeze when you breathe."

Dr. Al Barrier is the co-director for the ear, nose and throat allergy service for the University of Missouri. He said wet Spring weather is to blame for the spike in ragweed pollen.

"Ragweed is always more prominent when it's a wet year because the plant is wet, it produces more pollen, it has a chance to grow more," Barrier said.

Barrier said 70 percent of allergy symptoms are nasal. He recommends a few things people with allergies can do to keep symptoms at bay:
  • Take antihistamines
  • Use steroid nasal sprays
  • Sleep with a humidifier and use a salt water nasal spray to keep moisture in the nose
  • Visit an allergist
  • Barrier said although he has seen new allergy patients this Fall, it's the people who already suffer from allergies who are feeling more intense symptoms. He said allergy sufferers will start to feel relief after the first frost of the year when plants stop producing pollen.
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