WVXU: How you can prepare now for the upcoming fall allergy season

UC expert says the Ohio River Valley is a particularly bad place for allergies

If you have itchy puffy eyes and a nasal drip that just won’t quit, you might be one of more than 23 million Americans with ragweed allergies. This troublesome weed is making life miserable for many as the seasons change.

In an interview with WVXU, Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD, associate professor and director of the Division of Rhinology, Allergy and Anterior Skull Base Surgery in the UC College of Medicine says the geography of Greater Cincinnati is a major factor in how severe allergies can be in some people. 

“The Ohio River Valley is a particularly bad place for allergies as geography and climate have made it an optimal environment for pollen-producing plants, such as ragweed, so the frequency and severity of allergies are higher in our region," Sedaghat said. 

Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, in the UCGNI.

Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD, associate professor and director of the Division of Rhinology, Allergy and Anterior Skull Base Surgery in the UC College of Medicine/Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Marketing + Brand

He also said climate change is a factor. 

"I've noticed that with increasing fluctuations in temperature and these very big swings in temperature that we've seen increasingly over the last few years, which we've experienced certainly here in the Ohio River Valley — everyone's seeing it — but with our current conditions, it sort of exacerbates things. I think we see a lot more pollen release related to that as well."

Sedaghat, who has studied the current pandemic coronavirus since it first emerged in the United States in 2020, agrees it can be hard to tell allergy and COVID symptoms apart. That's largely because the current omicron variant is associated with more sinus and nasal symptoms.

“From the standpoint of symptoms, allergies are much more likely to manifest with prominent nasal symptoms, in particular sneezing or itching,” he said. “Our own studies were the first to show that some COVID-19 patients may have nasal symptoms such as congestion and mucus production, but we also showed that those symptoms tend to be rather mild when occurring during COVID-19.”

Also, if your symptoms respond to allergy medication, that's a good sign it's not COVID-19. Plus, he says, if you know you've been exposed to your allergen, or it's that time of year when your allergies flair up, use that as a guide.

"Sneezing tends to be a very classic allergy symptom. In theory, you can get sneezing with an upper respiratory tract infection, but it tends to be very classic allergy symptoms. So, if you start getting runs of sneezing, that's one thing to think about with respect to allergy."

See the entire story here.

Lead photo/Edward Jenner/Pexels

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