This article originally published on Daily Mail
September 18, 2022
Expert warns that third week of September is ‘peak week’ for ER visits related to the conditions as illnesses like the flu surge and pollen counts reach seasonal highs
- Experts warn that the third week of September is ‘peak week’ for asthma and allergy complications
- A combination of high ragweed prevalence and the start of flu season leads to a surge in doctor visits
- Around 15% of Americans suffer from ragweed pollen allergies, which exacerbate asthma symptoms
- Dr Robert McDermott recommends allergy sufferers to seek out care that can alleviate their symptoms
A combination of ragweed pollen and the start of flu season may make this week the worst of the year for allergy and asthma sufferers in the U.S., an experts warns.
Dr Robert McDermott, a board-certified allergist and immunologist with AllerVie, told DailyMail.com that the third week of September – between the 18th and 24th this year – is often a time where doctors report a sharp increase of allergy and asthma related visits. The period has earned the title of ‘peak week’ among experts.
This is because ragweeds, one of the most common fall allergens, reaches one of its highest pollen counts of the year in parts of America, combined with the start of flu season and the return to school around the country jump-starting the spread of infectious disease.
McDermott recommends parents who have children that suffer from asthma or severe allergies to equip a school nurse with medication their child may need incase severe symptoms arise. Adults who suffer from asthma or severe allergies may want to consult a doctor as well, as there are effective treatments available for allergies that many are totally unaware of.
‘Peak allergy week is the third week in September where we see the largest increase in asthma exacerbations and increased allergy symptoms in sufferers across the U.S.’ McDermott said.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that asthma episodes and attacks will surge throughout the month of September as multiple factors combine to cause problems for sufferers.
Ragweeds, which are prevalent along the east coast and Midwest, start to become fully grown in late August.
By mid-to-late September, the weeds have released pollen spores into the environment en masse, causing issue for the estimated 15 percent of Americans who suffer from the allergy.
For people with asthma this situation can get even worse, as their already restricted airways may tighten. This can cause shortness of breathe, and trigger an asthma attack in the most serious of cases.
The eruption of the flu will make things worse as well. Cases of the common respiratory illness will start to pick up in the coming weeks, with late-September usually when the uptick first begins.
Combine this with schools, which have entirely returned to in-person learning across the U.S., being breeding grounds for outbreaks of the flu.
While rarely deadly, the common flu is still often dangerous for people with asthma.
It can cause the airways to become inflamed, causing them to narrow or even close – triggering asthma symptoms.
Some fear that this could be an especially problematic flu season as well, as Australia – whose flu season is during the U.S. summer months – suffered its worse flu season in a half-decade this year, with peak case rates reaching heights three times higher than usual.
With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting spread of the flu for the past two years, many do not have the necessary antibodies to fight it as easily as they did before – leading to surging cases and more serious infections.
McDermott expects the flu to roar back to usual levels in the U.S. this year as well, presenting more of a problem for asthma and allergy sufferers.
Those at risk of more severe symptoms do not just have to accept their suffering, though.
McDermott recommends that people take active steps this week, and throughout the rest of fall to protect themselves.
For children, parents should make sure they have allergy medicine and devices like an inhaler that can treat asthma available to them at school. These can even be given to a school nurse for safe keeping.
He recommends adults to see a medical professional about treatment to manage their allergies, and make it so their immune system is less ‘hyperactive’ when exposed to inflammatory triggers like pollen.