Autumn allergy season ramps up after late start
A dry summer, courtesy of Mother Nature, delayed the start of autumn allergy season, but pollen levels are beginning to rise.
Dr. Leonard Bielory, a Rutgers University professor and allergy expert, said ragweed is generally the main driver of the Garden State fall allergy season. Ragweed pollen levels usually increase in early August and last until about first frost.
The dry conditions knocked the pace of ragweed pollen levels back about two weeks.
"We've actually had a slow start, low start, and starting to pick up right now," Bielory said. "Three out of four Americans, who have allergies, are allergic to ragweed."
Another factor is raising the concern level a bit for this season. Bielory said grass pollen levels are trending above normal.
"We're actually seeing a little bit of ragweed and grass pollen at the same time, and that will make people who have mild allergies be more worrisome at this point in time," he said.
The grass pollen season is expected to peak this month and fizzle out by the early part of October.
But, a lot will depend on whether the state experiences a wetter September, following such a dry August.
"If we have a nice rain downpour in the month of September, we are going to have a spike in grass and ragweed pollen," Bielory explained.
Allergy sufferers face potential runny noses, itchy eyes, and other symptoms from this combination.
He recommends allergy shots for affected people, which often help build tolerance for the increased pollen levels.
"The allergies become less clinically relevant to their daily life," he said. "It just does not bother them as much."
Dr. Bielory is conducting a grass pollen study. Anybody interested in participating can reach his office at (973) 912-9817.