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Ragweed causes much pain and suffering

September 2, 2012
By LESLIE LETUSICK - Copy editor ( , The Herald-Star

Allergy season stinks. With a capital "S."

August and September are always bad times for me because of the ragweed. My eyes itch and swell. My nose runs a hundred miles an hour. My husband says he's never seen someone with so much snot in their body. What can I say, I'm blessed. Oh yeah, and I have trouble breathing.

Under normal circumstances, I can take a few allergy meds and be on my way. No more itchy, swollen eyes. Very little trouble breathing and minimal drippage from the nose. Not this year. Because I am pregnant, I am limited as to what I am allowed to take. While yes, I am allowed to take two different medications, neither of them seems to be doing crap for me. Just lucky I guess. So I have been going around with bloodshot, puffy eyes, a tissue in every pocket (and usually one clutched firmly in my hand) and my inhaler not far away. Nice picture, huh?

In light of my time being stuck in the house trying to avoid any additional run-ins with ragweed, I looked into some facts and figures about allergies. My main reason: what are my son's odds of having to deal with the same affliction? Here's what I learned from WedMD.

-- Number of people in the U.S. who have either allergy or asthma symptoms: one in five. (yeah, I am blessed to have BOTH.)

-- Percentage of the U.S. population that tests positive to one or more allergens: 55 percent. (I have never actually been tested; I just know.)

-- Rank of allergies among other leading chronic diseases in the U.S.: fifth.

-- Number of workdays lost each year as a result of hay fever: 4 million. (Wow.)

-- Number of weeks by which the ragweed pollen season has increased in the last 10 to 15 years, likely as a result of global warming: four.

-- Odds that a child with one allergic parent will develop allergies: 33 percent.

-- Odds that a child with two allergic parents will develop allergies: 70 percent. (Thank God my husband is not.)

-- Percentage of our lives that we spend indoors: 90 percent.

-- Degree by which levels of indoor pollution in U.S. homes exceed levels of outdoor pollution: two to 100 times, depending on factors such as whether the residents smoke.

-- Percentage of U.S. households with one or more dogs: 39 percent. (Obviously, animals are another allergy contributor.)

-- Percentage of U.S. households with one or more cats: 33 percent.

-- Percentage of all U.S. households with detectable levels of dog and cat dander: 100 percent.

So, as I try to make it day by day through the rest of September without having any major allergy attacks and hoping that my son doesn't have any trouble ever (or at least not any time soon), if you happen to see me in my picture of allergy glory, please look the other way. But chances are, I will be tucked away hiding so the evil ragweed can't get me (hopefully.)

Here's to hoping your month of ragweed fun goes smoother than mine.

(Letusick, a resident of Rayland, is a copy editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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