Immunology expert discusses fall allergen forecast

Fall is right around the corner and certain pollen counts are creeping up.
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 4:56 PM EDT
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Fall is right around the corner and certain pollen counts are creeping up.

We caught up with Jackie Garrett, an allergy and immunology physician at Agape Allergy and Immunology Associates in West Springfield, who said so far, the fall allergies seem to be normal for this time of year.

“Eyes, nose, asthma symptoms, those who are on allergy injections who just started are having some breakthroughs. Those who have been on them for a while are actually doing fairly well,” she told us.

Garrett added that fall allergies typically peak in mid-September right around The Big E time, so her advice to help beat the symptoms is: “If you’ve been outdoors, make sure you bathe before you jump in your bed. Don’t walk around with pollen on you.
If you have animals that hang around outside, after you pet your dog, make sure that you wash your hands. No driving with the windows down.”

Western Mass News First Alert Meteorologist Don Maher said the main allergen right now is ragweed, which usually pops up around late August until the first frost. He said he expects the pollen counts to be high through the rest of the week.

“The big thing with ragweed is one ragweed plant can produce a large amount of pollen, so typically, when you get into the ragweed season, you do tend to see people really suffering from the allergies,” Maher said.

Maher explained that the lack of rain this season is making it hard for allergy sufferers to get some relief and Garrett told Western Mass News that grass pollen is still unseasonably high, that mixed with ragweed could increase allergy irritation. She said unlike grass pollen, ragweed is typically highest in the morning rather than in the afternoon hours.

“So for those people who are walking their dogs in the morning, if they’re sneezing, if their eyes are really itchy, they wanna think ‘Oh my gosh, I have ragweed allergies,’” Garrett noted.

Garrett wanted to remind anyone with fall allergies to make sure they’re keeping up with their allergist or primary care doctor and staying up to date with their medications.

“There are allergy pills, there are nasal sprays if you’re having a lot of nasal symptoms, so congestion, sneezing, runny, the postnasal drip, like the mucus in your throat, and there are also allergy eye drops,” Garrett said.

With school back in session, she wanted to remind all parents to inform their child’s school of any allergies or medications they may need.