ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Itchy, irritated eyes and runny noses are common this time of year.
South Georgia allergists offices are full with patients. Allergists say the problem is a combination of smoke from the swamp fire, farmers burning off their fields, and nature's irritants.
It can be something as simple as this area outside the allergists office where ragweed or pig weed may be growing, but right now with many farmers burning off fields allergists say it's hard to avoid a lot of irritants in the air.
Smoke. It's an all too common sight in south Georgia as many begin to clear the debris fall leaves behind.
"Just trying to clean up some of the yard debris. The yard has a lot of leaves on it," said Tony Riggins of Albany.
While it isn't bothering Tony Riggins.
"Just a little bit, I don't mind it, I can take it," said Riggins.
That's not the case for everyone.
"Aaahhh," said a young patient as he stuck out his tongue.
It's sent many directly to the doctor's office with red, irritated eyes, sniffling, in search of relief.
"When you're burning woods and agricultural products the irritants that come out of that smoke can include the oils from Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac and that is a very strong irritant to the airways," said Nancy McKemie, PA-C Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Georgia.
As a large swamp fire in Clinch County continued to spread smoke and farmers continue to clear fields, it's especially tough for those with respiratory illnesses including COPD or asthma.
"With those people we always recommend that they use their inhalers properly, they may need to increase their use of their rescue inhalers," said McKemie.
Staying indoors is best, for others it can be a simple over the counter fix.
"Salt water irrigation is good, salt water nose spray. If you're sneezing, runny nose, eye irritation there are antihistamine over the counter that are recommended," said McKemie.
With leaves still falling from the trees and fields still to be cleared and some harvests still coming in, it may be some time before those affected by the irritants are seeing clearly again.
Allergists say pig weed levels are high, especially since farmers are clearing cotton fields now, where pigweed likes to grow, spreading the seeds as they cut the plants. If you do need to be out in the yard, doctors say limit your exposure and consider using a mask.
Throughout the entire month of November the weed count in Albany and southwest Georgia has remained high, while mold and grass counts have been low.