BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Sneezing and wheezing: this time of year can be miserable for anyone who suffers from allergies. And this summer's drought is not helping.
Have your seasonal allergies been bothering you more than usual this year? Dr. Stanley Schwartz is chief of allergy and immunology at UB Medical School. His patients have been complaining more than usual, and he does partly blame the weather.
Dr. Schwartz said, "I guess you could call it a severe season; if it's long and you're uncomfortable, it's severe. I think people are feeling it because they started - the tree-allergic people began their season well into March, maybe even early March."
The trees bloomed early because of the warm weather, and the grasses have stayed blooming longer. Their pollen is spread by air, and our dry weather keeps them airborne.
"On a rainy day, it literally washes the air-borne pollen out of the air," Dr. Schwartz explained. But if you have a windy day, even if you have just a moderate level of pollen, and it's maintained airborne because of the wind, and we've had a windy summer."
Flowers that are colorful or fragrant are pollinated by insects - they don't cause allergies. The allergenic plants have tiny, inconspicuous flowers, like ragweed, which is blooming earlier than usual this year thanks to the weather. So when will it end?
Dr. Schwartz said, "The first killing frost ends the season; the first hard frost, where we really get persistent temperatures below freezing for at least a few hours."
But while you're waiting, you don't have to suffer. Most people's symptoms can be relieved by antihistamines.
"They're generally quite safe, and if they get relief from inexpensive over-the-counter medications, go for it," said Dr. Schwartz.
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