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It’s sneezin’ season again

September 2, 2017
Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

There's a whole lot of sneezin' going on these days.

The rag weed's running rampant and various pollens fill the air.

In our family, daughter Sherri and son Tim are among the 15 million Americans afflicted by this miserable malady. For them, the period from mid August until the first frost is sneezin' season.

Tim is being treated by an allergist but gets most of his relief from what he calls his morning "arsenal" of pills and nasal sprays.

Sherri tries to fight her symptoms with over-the-counter medications.

In the days when we all lived under one roof, the entire family dreaded this late-summer-into-fall period when "God bless you" and "Pass the tissues" continually sounded throughout the house.

Even though Becky and I weren't cursed by the pollen haze, empathy for the stricken members of the family made us all suffer together.

Before I met my late husband, George, a life-long hay fever sufferer, I was already aware of how miserable the season could be for those plagued by the problem.

In my single years, I worked my way through college with Dr. Emory, an allergy specialist blessed with wisdom and humor. His patients loved him. He responded by calling them the Sneeze, Wheeze and Itch Club.

But many folks don't realize they're fighting seasonal allergies. They try to convince themselves it's just a cold hanging on.

One long-ago September, our nephew, Bill, was visiting. Like George and Sherri, Bill had a runny nose. But, though hay fever sensitivities ran in the family, Bill assured us his problem was only a lingering cold. "I'm sure I'd know if I had hay fever," he reasoned.

During his visit, we accepted a friend's invitation to go into his corn field and pick some fresh corn for a cookout. We left our known hay fever sufferers, Sherri, Tim and George, at home. Becky, Bill and I headed for the corn field with our sacks, looking forward to the coming feast of fresh sweet corn.

Unfortunately, in addition to the lush corn crop, the field was home to a huge collection of rag weed plants, waving gaily in the breeze.

It took less than 10 minutes for Bill's hidden hay fever to hit him full force. With swelling, runny eyes and racked by endless sneezes, he hustled to the car.

At home, some rest, aspirin and cold water compresses on his eyes brought Bill some welcome relief.

Since then, he's come to realize that he, too, inherited the family's sensitivity to the seasonal ragweed curse.

If you, or someone you know, is plagued with what seems like a lingering cold during these fading days of summer, the problem might be that pesky rag weed pollen.

Treatments include aspirin and antihistamines, as well as many self-help techniques used by longtime sufferers.

As hay fever victims across the region wave their hankie flags in surrender, they can console themselves that the first frost will bring rag weed's threat to an end.

In the meantime, it's best to get plenty of rest, keep the tissues handy and stay away from corn fields.



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