COLUMBUS (WCMH) — You may be sneezing and sniffling more the past week for good reason. Perhaps your eyes are watering more after spending time outdoors or mowing the lawn.
We have entered the second part of allergy season in Ohio, when ragweed becomes more prevalent. Since Aug. 15, ragweed has been driving up the daily pollen count. Dry, breezy days allow pollen grains to travel farther and find a landing spot on us and our clothes.
Infrequent and spotty rain, which is typical of late August and September, limits the amount of cleansing that air undergoes, which allows pollen in the air to linger.
The situation was different during the spring allergy season, when buds open up on warm sunny days. Unusually chilly weather in April delayed the emergence of leaves and tree pollen. Record cold and subfreezing mornings in May diminished the normal release of grass pollen until late month.
Dr. Summit Shah, an allergist with Premier Allergy and Asthma, explained that the weather was “cooler and rainier than normal,” giving allergy sufferers an early buffer. Eventually, tree and grass pollen converged in mid-May with the growth of thicker vegetation, but for a shorter duration than usual.
Shah confirmed what we suspected about Ohio and allergens. He said Ohio “is a hotbed for seasonal allergies” because of the influence of climate and topography. “The flat kind of plains and the (Ohio) Valley area serve as a place where the pollen can gather from thousands of miles away. Pollen can travel very far.”
In the spring, the predominant oak and sugar maple species are notorious for producing allergy symptoms. Wetter spring weather in recent years has increased the levels of mold, which was moderately high for an extended time. Precipitation during the first five months of the years in Columbus averaged more than 10 inches above normal in the Columbus area.
The best advice is to wash away pollen before going to bed at night, which becomes embedded in our hair and in the fur of our pets. Running the air-conditioner and closing windows on warm, breezy days helps, too.
Dr. Shah cautioned not to associate lower respiratory symptoms and fevers with seasonal allergies. Symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and occasional coughing from post-nasal drip suggest a response to something in the environment. However, a “fever, cough or shortness of breath and difficulty breathing” require an immediate medical consultation, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To keep up with the daily pollen count and latest weather forecast, stay tuned to NBC4 or go to NBC4i.com/weather. You can always check weather conditions and Live Vipir radar online and on our free mobile weather app.