By ILENE MANACHER
The approach of fall brings a new round of allergy suffering in many parts of the country.
The yellowish-greenish ragweed plant is a leading source of itchy, sneezy misery for many. As many as 30 percent of people have allergic rhinitis (that is, hay fever), and about a third of them are allergic to ragweed pollen, according to Dr. Timothy Craig, an allergist and professor of medicine and pediatrics at Penn State University in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
"The thing with ragweed is it's just such a big pollen producer," Craig told CBS News. "That's why it's such an issue for people east of the Rocky Mountains."
In fact, experts say a single ragweed plant can produce up to a billion pollen grains in a season. It typically begins in mid-August and peaks in mid-September. Many experts say mild springs and late frosts are making the season last even longer.
And if the pollen doesn't get you, watch out for fall molds, another allergy culprit. They grow on wet leaves and decomposing plants.
"Not only do you have ragweed, which is the most common allergen," Craig noted, "on top of that another 15 percent are sensitive to Alternaria and the other outdoor molds. So it's a major problem for people this time of year."
What's an allergy sufferer to do? Read on for some expert advice on how to deal with fall allergies...