MARQUETTE - With each autumn a new set of seasonal allergies affect many people every year.
In the fall the main culprit of allergies is ragweed pollen, said Dr. Joseph Bobby, a board certified allergist in Marquette. Mold spores can also peak in the fall and cause allergies to act up, he said.
"The weed pollen count right now is medium to low-high," Bobby said. "The ragweed season starts in the fall around August and ends with the first frost."
Golden rod can cause seasonal allergies for people in the fall. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Allergies can affect the nose, eyes, skin or lungs depending on the person.
"So you can have red, itchy, watery eyes or stuffy, runny, itchy, watery nose, post nasal drip, sore throats, shortness of breath, wheezing or cough, or itchy, red eczema rash," Bobby said. "These are all manifestation of allergic reactions in the fall."
According to Bobby, they have three steps in treating allergies. The first is environmental control. It is very difficult to avoid ragweed or golden rod pollen; it's microscopic and it's everywhere, Bobby said, but some steps can be taken.
"You can close your windows and doors so the pollen doesn't get in the house, take a shower at the end of the day and wash the pollen off of your body and hair before you go to bed and don't hang clothes, bed sheets and pillowcases out to dry because the pollen can get stuck to it and make your allergies worse," Bobby said.
The second step a person can take to help control their allergies is treatment and treatment depends on a person's symptoms, Bobby noted. One of the treatments is taking an over the counter medicine.
"If you have stuffy, runny, itchy, watery nose or eyes you can take an antihistamine. You can take a prescription nasal spray. If you have asthma there are inhalers. For eczema there are steroid creams," Bobby said. "So that's step two."
The third and final step are allergy shots, but they are typically a last resort, Bobby said.
"Allergy shots can desensitize you to ragweed or molds or even other things," Bobby said. "We usually reserve allergy shots when conventional medical therapy fails."
Emma Wolfe, a student at Northern Michigan University, has seasonal allergies and said she tends to use over the counter medicine.
"Over the counter (medicine) seems to get the job done, but I have to shell out the money for Zirtec because it's that much more strong," Wolfe said. "I can't do allergy shots because I'm extremely needle phobic, but I hear that's probably the most effective method. I'm just more willing to suffer with my allergies than sit through a shot."
Wolfe, who is originally from Georgia, said she gets allergies in the spring and fall but they are worse in the fall especially as the grass starts to die.
"I'm pretty much always carrying around tissues around the beginning of the school year," Wolfe said. "Going back into Marquette's climate after Georgia's is a shock on my entire body."
Wolfe usually gets a runny nose that is almost always stuffy, her eyes swell and turn red and also frequently water, she said. If she gets something on her skin, she'll break into hives, which is probably the worst of the symptoms she has, Wolfe said.
Though Wolfe has never been to an allergist she said she thinks she probably should.
"I went to a walk-in clinic last year for a severe allergic reaction on my legs from sitting in the grass, which I am no longer allowed to do up here, but I wasn't referred to an allergist or anything," Wolfe said.
Some people believe that instead of allergies they might just have a cold, but according to Bobby, colds only last five to seven days.
"If they have a cold lasting 10 days or more and lingers then that's probably allergies and not just a regular cold," Bobby said.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.