Allergy season heats up early in Southern Wisconsin

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August 21, 2009
— Allergy sufferers are facing their foes earlier this season, a local allergist says.

Ragweed and mold season usually gets rolling in September, but it’s already started, said Ronald Ragotzy, allergist/immunologist at Mercy Clinic East. July usually is a better month for allergies, but it never really let up this year, he said.

It’s hard to say why, he said, “but I think it’s been such a good growing season with it being cool, it hasn’t been dried out, and I think the molds just love to grow in that. I think that’s what made it worse than other years.”

Last summer’s record flooding also might have played a role, he said.

“It probably got things going, and this year they (molds) just kept growing,” he said.

Molds tend to trigger asthma, so if it’s a bad mold year, it’ll likely be a bad asthma year this fall, he said.

Ragotzy said he’s seeing more patients earlier than previous years reporting allergy symptoms.

Ragotzy says people have three ways to treat allergies:

-- Avoid what causes the allergy. That can be difficult.

“It doesn’t really work for seasonal stuff, but it does work really well for cats, dust mites (and others),” Ragotzy said.

-- Medication. A “whole bunch” of medications on the market treat allergies, and they do a very good job, he said.

“There are a lot more options now that don’t make you drowsy,” he said.

-- Immunotherapy. Allergy shots or drops try to change your immune system so you don’t react to pollens or molds.

It can be a long-term process, though, usually three to five years.

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