Ragweed, mold spores among allergens wreaking havoc in East Texas

East Texas allergist offers recommendations for relief
Tis the season for sneezing and sniffling in East Texas.
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2022 at 6:35 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - ‘Tis the season for sneezing and sniffling in East Texas. Ragweed has returned to the daily pollen count and is making life miserable for East Texans with allergies, but it’s not the only allergen to blame.

Dexter Jones is responsible for the pollen count conducted each weekday at the top of Tyler’s UT Health Science Center, where a greased rod captures pollen in the air.

“Every 10 minutes it (the rod) rotates one minute,” Jones said.

After changing the rod, the retired hospital employee heads back to what we’ll call ‘Dexter’s Laboratory,’ where he carefully counts the pollen under a microscope.

“Whether it’s ragweed in that field, grass in the field, tree, mold. I count how many of those particular pollens are in each of those fields,” Jones said.

Among the popular pollens under his microscope today: ragweed and mold.

Latest pollen count from UT Health Science Center (Sept. 14)
Latest pollen count from UT Health Science Center (Sept. 14)(Courtesy)

UT Health East Texas allergist Jonathan Buttram, MD, says avoidance measures are always the first line of defense.

“If you are allergic to pollens, then it’s typically going to be outdoor exposures that are problematic,” Buttram said. “Wearing sunglasses outside helps keeps pollens out of the eyes, which helps not only with the eyes but with the nose as well. If you are driving around in your car, keep your windows up and the AC on with the air recirculating.”

He also recommends showering at the end of the day if you spent a lot of time outside.

“You’re getting pollens in your hair and in the oils on your skin, so shower at nighttime before you go to bed so you don’t take all those things to bed with you.”

When it comes to allergy medicine, Buttram recommends starting with over-the-counter antihistamines like Claritin or Zyrtec. If those don’t work, he recommends nasal steroids.

“Those are medications like Flonase, Nasacort, Rhinocort, and Sensimist. All available over the counter.”

But if you can’t find relief in the aisles of the pharmacy, it may be time to see an allergist for allergy testing and long-lasting relief from immunotherapy. While it may not always be the fastest option, he said it is the most reliable for those suffering.

“That’s where we actually give you the things that you’re allergic to either in the form of injections or drops or tablets under the tongue.” Buttram said. “The vast majority of patients get lasting benefits for years after they stop.