Ragweed allergies high across nation; St. Louis med center offers steps toward relief

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis University Medical Center on Tuesday issued a step-by-step guide in tackling allergies, timely considering the recent uptick in ragweed allergies. According to Weather.com, weed allergens are particularly high right now across much of the continental United States.

The guidelines:

  • Avoid allergens by closing windows, changing air conditioning filters and limiting outdoor activities. If you feel better, you have a good clue that allergies are at work, rather than a cold or sinus infection;

  • Try over-the-counter medicines, such as Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec;

  • If over-the-counter medicines don't do the trick or if you find yourself missing out on outdoor activities, visit an allergist. Prescription nasal sprays containing either steroids or antihistamines may be in order. Your allergist may do a skin prick test to zero in on your precise allergens if the source of your symptoms isn't clear; and

  • If you continue to suffer, your allergist may recommend immunotherapy. While the series of shots must be administered over the course of a few years to increase your body's tolerance to the allergen, the good news is that recipients reported improvements in symptoms within a few months after beginning treatment.