Are you coughing with a sinus pressure headache? My family is suffering terrible sinus issue right now. Runny nose, sore throats, tired, grouchy and can't breath? Find out what is causing this and how you can survive the season.

One minute I'm talking and the next I am coughing uncontrollably. I haven't slept well in a week until finally last night. I've tried everything I can think of and last night I did all of that plus I mixed up a "hot toddy" which is whisky, honey and lemon warmed up. That did the trick. Aside from having a few strange dreams, I slept all night without coughing.

ThinkStock

It is ragweed allergy season in Texarkana. Did you know that there are approximately 15 different types of ragweed, which makes it "the largest single seasonal allergen in North America," according to the experts at Pollen.com?

ThinkStock

If you are suffering from sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, nose, and throat or watery eyes right now, you are not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from hay fever and this is one of the worst times of the year. Your physician may call it “Allergic Rhinitis" but it is commonly called hay fever. The name is funny because it has nothing to do with actual hay. It happens when we are outside during the pollen season and get in the way of plants, weeds and trees that are releasing pollen to repopulate the earth with more plants, trees and weeds. We end up ingesting that pollen instead of it landing in a field somewhere to seed and grow. The result is allergens entering our bodies causing hay fever and misery.

An allergy doctor once asked me what I liked to do the most. When I told him I loved being outdoors gardening and playing in the dirt he was shocked. He looked at my allergy test results and told me that I was allergic to everything I loved outside.

According to Pollen.com, there are two kinds of rhinitis for allergy sufferers and I am unfortunate enough to suffer from both: Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (aka Hay Fever) and Perennial Allergic Rhinitis.

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis -- occurs during specific flowering periods during pollen season when plants are shedding their pollen.

 

Perennial Allergic Rhinitis --  occurs year-round and most of those symptoms are due to indoor allergens like pet dander, dust, and mold.

 

Why are so many people in Texarkana getting sick?

We are in the medium to high pollen count area. Ragweed and grass pollen is high and causing many of us major issues. You can see in the chart below from Pollen.com.

Pollen.com

On the scale of 0 to 12, we are hitting medium to high pollen counts all week with the top allergens of ragweed and grass. The allergen reaction to ragweed is pretty extreme for many of us in this area.

What can you do to minimize the effects of the allergic response?

Use over the counter allergy pills to help block the histamine reaction. Decongestants are helpful, too. Nasal sprays can be very effective because your nose is where the allergy responses begin. Pollen enters through our noses creating our systems to respond with mucus to surround the allergens and eliminate them, kind of like a flooding rain moves items around in your yard. To minimize the mucus response you can do a sinus flush by sending a saline solution through your nasal passageways via a "Neti Pot" or other some other device that you are comfortable with which you can research through WebMD. Using this kind of nasal flush takes a little getting used to and I suggest that you read all of the instructions or you could have a bad experience. CNN also published a great story on the positive effects of using a Neti Pot system for long term relief of sinusitis.

Staying inside is not necessarily the easiest for everyone but to minimize your exposure to allergy-causing pollen, stay inside if you can from 10AM and 3PM, which is when pollen is flying the most.

Drink plenty of water to help your body rid itself of the allergens. Change your air filters often and keep your windows closed.

I've had a lot of experience with allergies and sinus issues. Being born with asthma made me more susceptible to seasonal and yearly allergies early on. A few years ago I knew I had to find a better way to manage my symptoms when I figured out that I had been to the doctor for sinus infections 21 times in one year.

Each of those visits meant I was on antibiotics for at least 10 days. Sometimes I had to get a second round. That means that out of 365 days, I was on medication for more than 210 days. Eventually your body will build a resistance to antibiotics making it more difficult to treat infections. I use all of the suggestions listed in the previous paragraph. I also get allergy shots, which really helped me during the spring allergy season. Taking antibiotics is my last line of defense. Buy soft tissue, that's important too.

Texarkana shouldn't suffer too long since we are expecting a wetter than normal fall season. When it rains, pollen can't fly.