Medicine: The Big Sneeze

Pollen blew from sycamore trees in Southern California, from orchard grass in Tennessee, from the oaks of New England. Pollen was blowing everywhere in the U.S. last week, and all over the country hay fever victims knew it. Sales of such over-the-counter antihistamines as Coricidin and Allerest climbed with the pollen indices. Noses itching and eyes stinging, patients ran to their doctors for the more potent prescription drugs. Almost three months before the debut of the most debilitating pollen of them all—ragweed—the hay fever season had arrived with a loud sneeze.

Hay fever's acute onset could be blamed on the weather—hot, dry...

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