Giant ragweed!!!

  1. No wonder so many of us are miserable with allergies.

    From the Evansville (IN) Courier & Press

    Achoo!
    Giant ragweed has Tri-Staters sneezing

    By ELLA JOHNSON Courier & Press staff writer 464-7420 or ejohnson@evansville.net
    September 4, 2002

    The office of Evansville allergist Dr. Frank Amodio has been crowded in recent days with patients suffering from red, itchy, watery eyes, runny noses, sneezing attacks and coughing spells.

    That is not surprising, since it is allergy season. But according to Amodio, symptoms seem to be affecting more people this year. And, he said, "I think (the symptoms) are a bit more severe."

    Amodio blames it on a new variety of super giant ragweed, also known as horseweed, that has quickly become the second most dominant weed in the Tri-State.

    Larry Caplan, the local Purdue University extension educator and horticulturist, said he has noticed a "huge amount" of giant ragweed growing in ditches and farm fields throughout Vanderburgh County.

    "They had a good start this spring with the rain," said Caplan, who also suffers from hay fever. "Being a weed, they are more competitive than some of our other crops. That's why we are seeing them standing up above the corn."

    "When it's dry, the pollen blows much better," Caplan added. "It's been very dry here, especially the last couple of weeks, so we are definitely seeing a good bit of it."

    Ragweed typically grows 4 to 8 feet tall, but giant ragweed can get as high as 18 feet. The weed is often


    "When your nose is stopped up and you are forced to breathe through your mouth, you're breathing 100 times more particulates into your lungs. I see a lot of people who have asthma associated with allergies, especially triggered by ragweed." - Dr. Frank Amodio, an Evansville allergist
    found in corn and soybean fields, making it harder to eradicate without destroying valuable crops.

    The Tri-State is entering the peak ragweed season. During this time of year, each ragweed plant can release up to 1 million pollen particulates a day, Amodio said. That can have a major impact on the quality of life for people allergic to pollen, especially children and young adults who enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors.

    Amodio said allergy suffers may also experience congestion at night. He said when people are forced to breathe through the mouth while sleeping, they often wake up tired and not as alert throughout the day. He said congestion and coughing can also lead to an asthma attack.

    "When your nose is stopped up and you are forced to breathe through your mouth, you're breathing 100 times more particulates into your lungs," Amodio said. "I see a lot of people who have asthma associated with allergies, especially triggered by ragweed."

    Amodio said over-the-counter medications can help temporarily relieve symptoms, but consumers should read the label to avoid taking something that may cause fatigue or drowsiness when they need to be alert.

    His best advice is to avoid the allergen, if possible. That means keeping windows closed and running an air conditioner when possible to filter out pollen, limiting the amount of time you spend outdoors or taking an antihistamine at least 30 minutes before going outside.

    If that doesn't help, Amodio recommends seeing a doctor who might prescribe daily medication to help control your symptoms. He said taking medication on a daily basis "seems to work a lot better than just taking it when you think you need to."

    If that still doesn't work, Amodio said next year you should consider allergy shots.

    "Shots seem to reduce by 50 percent the chance of developing asthma associated with allergens," compared to taking allergy pills, he said. "Allergy shots would eventually delay the need for medication and eventually cure your allergy attacks."

    Caplan said pollen from ragweed and allergy season will likely continue until the Tri-State's first frost, which is usually in mid-October. "A couple of years ago we had a late frost," Caplan said. "Judging by my own symptoms, the ragweed plants ran out of pollen long before they died."



    (Maxing out the Zyrtec D, Nasonex, eye drops, Advair, and Accolate),
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