Although your stuffy nose may tell you otherwise, St. Louis again ranks No. 9 on the list of 100 Fall Allergy Capitals, as compiled by Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The list factors in pollen counts, use of allergy medications and whether the city has an adequate ratio of allergists to treat all the local patients.
The fall is usually worst for weed and ragweed pollen counts, and depending on precipitation levels fall can also be bad for mold. So we can probably thank the remnants of Hurricane Isaac that the mold spore levels are high in the Midwest right now (though down from their spike a few days ago) and the weed pollen counts have been on the rise (apparently these lovely plants were down but not out due to the drought).
Of course, whether these trends mean a thing to you depends on what specific allergens make you feel like needles are poking your eyeballs. If you’re allergic to trees, you’re probably doing just fine.
But if ragweed is what ails you, you might want to go to bed and stay there until, oh, December or so. Forecasters at The Weather Channel describe the current allergy season as “wretched” and say it will “be worse and last longer than recent memory” thanks to the up-and-down temperatures and precipitation we’ve had this year.
You may also recall that the allergy season started off early this spring. This may have super-charged the weed pollens, making for an especially potent dose of allergy doom.
Many children with seasonal allergies are not tested for specific allergens — instead, their doctors may advise them to start on allergy medications sometime in August, depending on their symptoms. Children diagnosed with asthma, on the other hand, often know the allergens that could trigger a reaction so their parents can take measures to avoid them.
The big national news on the anti-allergy front in 2012 is that a generic version of Singulair is now available. Some advocates urge making it and albuterol, an inhalant that dilates the airways, over-the-counter medications.
On the state front, Missouri now allows schools to maintain a supply of albuterol on site in case children with asthma need the medication quickly. The homepage of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, St. Louis Chapter contains a link for schools in St. Louis City and County to receive a free supply.
Physicians recommend that parents of young allergy sufferers:
Promptly refill prescriptions for their medications, including albuterol, which is often used as a rescue medication when children start to have an asthma attack.
Keep the kids indoors if possible.
Recirculate indoor air and use clean filters in a.c. unts.
Offer children sunglasses to keep pollen out of their eyes. Offer cold compresses if it’s too late and their eyes are already red, itchy and watery.
Clean often, especially the area where your family stores shoes and outdoor gear.
Shower or take a bath before going to bed if they’ve been playing outdoors.
Editor’s note: The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, St. Louis Chapter tweets daily pollen and mold summaries (including ozone levels). You can get a second opinion from the National Allergy Bureau-certified allergist who does the official pollen count for the Midwest at Loyola University in Melrose Park, Ill.
By Amy De La Hunt, health blogger for SmartParenting