With Ragweed Pollen in the Air, Don't Confuse Allergies With COVID-19

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By WCBS Newsradio 880

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — People with allergies, beware.

Ragweed pollen is in the air and because of all the recent rain there is plenty of it.

"This year's crop of ragweed is a bumper crop," said Dr. Leonard Bielory of Rutgers University. "The ragweed is about 25% to 30% larger plants than in previous five years."

He has been studying the effects of climate change on pollen release and allergies.

"As you move north, you will see that the onset was earlier and the closure was later," Bielory said. "The longer you have a delay in frost, the longer the season. The longer the season, the more pollen from ragweed, and the more pollen from ragweed, the more people were exposed to it."

He predicts it'll be a longer season as warmer temps stave off the first frost.

He warns don't confuse allergies with coronavirus.

Symptoms might make you think you have coronavirus or the flu, but there are differences. 

Bielory said sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose - allergies. A fever could indicate a virus.

"Can you develop muscle aches and pains? Not with allergies, but yes, with a viral infection such as COVID-19," Bielory said.

To help with allergy symptoms he said there are new treatments available.

"It's a drug called Cetirizine  for the eye that's a new medication and it's targeted for the eye, and there's a new non-steroid treatment for nasal lavage for the nose which is basically a holistic treatment regiment which is made of menthol, eucalyptus, cinnamon, mint, benzoin all mixed together and it's called sinusol," Bielory said.

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