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In Oklahoma, ragweed is expected to rise

BY SONYA COLBERG Modified: September 14, 2010 at 6:07 am •  Published: September 14, 2010

If you're sneezing, stuffy, itchy-throated, runny-nosed and beginning to resemble the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the face, better watch out.

Ragweed allergy may be the culprit. The weed is responsible for more pollen asthma and allergies than any other weed in North America. And it's poised to get worse this week.

David Gant has been taking allergy medication in hopes of softening the beating ragweed gives him every year around this time. Sometimes his eyes become swollen shut and his breathing so difficult that he has to get an emergency injection to counteract the symptoms.

"Some years it has been pretty debilitating," Gant said.

He and his wife, Kristi, began suffering from the allergies once they started farming and ranching a few years ago northwest of Oklahoma City.

"There's ragweed everywhere. If you're mowing and run into it, it really tears you up," he said. "When you spread the pollen, within minutes your eyes are burning, nose is watering, and it just goes downhill from there."

The Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic is seeing many patients allergic to ragweed and the pollen level hasn't even yet reached the high alert category, said Dr. Warren Filley. Grass, weeds and mold were all at high levels on Monday, according to the pollen counts reported on the clinic's website at

Ragweed starts driving sufferers crazy about the first week of September, with shortly after dawn being the worst time. is predicting very high levels of weed pollen, principally ragweed, through Thursday in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas.

Ragweed gets busy through September in Oklahoma, where giant ragweed is the most prevalent and can grow 15 feet tall in drainage ditches, undisturbed areas and along roads.

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