"This has been a different allergy season -- a lot of ragweed out there," says Dr. Jeffrey Wald, an allergy and asthma specialist.
Although ragweed season generally rages throughout September, Wald say it seems to be worse this fall.
"Unlike previous allergy and asthma years, August 15th hit with a bang," Wald explains. "[Allergy season has] been gradual and spread-out, primarily due to the drought conditions over the summer," he says.
As a result, the tiny airborne pollen from plants like ragweed are plaguing allergy sufferers, especially many children, who sneeze, sniffle and cough their way through the school day.
"When I start running, I start to wheeze and cough," says Alex, an elementary school student who suffers from allergies.
"It's like if you have a cold all the time, all year round," explains another student.
Some children with allergies say they get teased for their watery-eyed appearance.
"Well, they don't make fun of me, but sometimes they make funny faces at me," one child confides.
Allergies, in short, are nothing to sneeze at. Twenty percent of all children are allergic to something, and allergies account for two million missed school days each year.
Parents should monitor their children's allergies. If over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants aren't helping, adults should consult a pediatrician about prescription nasal sprays or allergy shots.
"There's now a study that if you start allergy shots at a young age, it will decrease the likelihood that allergies will develop into asthma," Wald says.
If your child is having symptoms on a daily basis and school work is being disrupted, parents should talk to an allergist whose specialty is pediatrics and get their child tested to find out the source of the reactions.
Reported By Anne Petersen