Delayed ragweed pollen season just around the corner

Ragweed plants. (Photo courtesy Dr. Leonard Bielory)

Ragweed plants. (Photo courtesy Dr. Leonard Bielory)

The ragweed season is getting a late start.

Allergy specialist Dr. Leonard Bielory, who tracks the pollen count in New Jersey, said the usual mid-August onset of ragweed pollen was delayed this year because of recent hot, humid weather.

“Which actually puts the ragweed into more of a dormant state waiting for a dry spell,” he said. “Literally, the flowers need to dry out to release the pollen and be more airborne. If it’s very humid, it will hold on. The pollen won’t travel as far.”

Bielory, who expects a brisk rise in ragweed pollen over the next three weeks, said it won’t be as severe as last year.

Three out of four Americans are allergic to ragweed.

“It’s one of the most common, if not the most common, pollen that causes allergies,” he said. “They will get running nose, watery eyes, and what I call ‘sneeze, wheeze, and itch.'”

Medication can provide some relief, and Bielory also suggests limiting outdoor activities when the wind picks up.

“In the morning hours where the wind is dull, though the pollen is starting to release, is probably the easiest time to do the jogging that people look for,”  he said. “In the afternoon, when there is a wind around, the pollen has already been dried, the pollen pods are opening, and the wind is carrying it out.”

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