Feel as if your head has been stuffed with cotton and your eyes have been rubbed with sandpaper?
Blame ragweed, the wild plant that unloads its pollen-heavy flowers as summer gives way to fall.
The conditions are especially bad in North Texas, with Pollen.com ranking Dallas and Fort Worth as the worst cities in the nation for allergy sufferers.
Ragweed can cause itchy, red and puffy eyes, a runny nose, a scratchy throat and general misery.
“We’ve seen an increase in patients with eye itching and swelling,” said Dr. James R. Haden of the Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Fort Worth.
Besides ragweed, elm is producing plenty of pollen, Haden said, and “the rest of the fall-pollinating weeds won’t be far behind.”
Because a single ragweed plant can produce up to a billion grains of pollen, it’s almost impossible to avoid.
1 billiongrains of pollen are released by a single ragweed plant
Most doctors suggest using over-the-counter antihistamines (such as Zyrtec and Claritin) and nasal steroids (such as Nasacort AQ and Flonase) to combat itchy eyes, runny noses, scratchy throats and coughing.
“It’s much better to start them now regularly in anticipation of symptoms than to wait until things are out of control,” he said.
Haden said the miserable conditions could continue through November.
With the relatively mild and wet summer, I expect the fall pollen season to be impressive.
Dr. James R. Haden, Fort Worth
And keep plenty of tissues handy: The dreaded mountain cedar pollen usually arrives in December or January.