CINCINNATI—After a brutal summer and rainy September, ragweed and mold spores are affecting many people with allergies in the Greater Cincinnati region, says UC Health otolaryngologist and allergy specialist Allen Seiden, MD.
To help patients understand if it’s these, or other allergens, that are causing their stuffy nose and itchy eyes, UC Health allergists will be screening for the five most common allergies Tuesday, Oct. 9, and Thursday, Oct. 11, in Clifton and West Chester.
"Early fall is a big time for allergies,” says Seiden, a UC professor of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery. "Ragweed, in particular, is the most significant allergen in North America.”
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, a single ragweed plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains, which are lightweight and float easily through the air, disturbing many people with seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.
Seiden says mold is also a significant allergen in the area, with the wet ground and disappearing sun causing a rise in mold spores. Symptoms can rise or fall depending on the daily spore count—and can be often confused with a seasonal cold.
Symptoms can include:
- Stuffy or runny nose.
- Itchy eyes, nose and throat.
- Worsening of asthma symptoms.
While severe allergies can often be controlled with allergy shots, Seiden says mild to moderate allergic reactions can be managed by avoiding the specific allergen and using over-the-counter medications.
"It does help to know what the problem is,” he says. "If you know what you’re sensitive to, you can get on the right track with appropriate allergy medications. Most people don’t need allergy shots.”
The free allergy screenings will include skin prick tests for the most common allergen classes: ragweed, mold, dust mites, grass, maple tree and cat.
"In the skin prick test, we use a very small amount of the allergen extract to lightly prick a section of the patient’s arm,” says Seiden. "If the patient is sensitive to that allergen, mast cells beneath their skin will be stimulated and release inflammatory chemicals that cause the reaction. In the screening, it results in a slight itch and swelling around the area, but that typically goes down shortly after the test.”