WASHINGTON -- As many areas of the country continue to dry out from the rains dumped by Hurricanes Lee and Irene, some health experts are forecasting a secondary impact that will affect millions of people: a miserable allergy season. Heavy rains coupled with the high heat have created the perfect storm for an increased-yield of ragweed. Alexander C. Chester, M.D., a clinical professor at Georgetown University Medical Center and an internist at Foxhall Internists based in Washington says, “Without a doubt, we’re likely to see the ragweed season extended by at least a month.” The allergy season that usually starts in mid-August and ends in September could be go on much later meaning, ghouls and goblins might still be carrying tissues with their candy bags on Halloween. Ragweed is the primary culprit of fall allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. A ragweed plant only lives one season, but it packs a powerful punch. A single plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains, which float easily through the air. “Sufferers are all too familiar with the tell-tale signs: constant sneezing, itchy eyes, nose and throat, and stuffiness. It leaves people feeling cruddy,” says Chester. To get relief, Chester says see a doctor. While there is no cure for ragweed allergies, an accurate diagnosis, which sometimes requires testing, is essential for managing symptoms. Prescription drugs can help beat allergy symptoms while allergy shots can help you gradually increase your ability to tolerate allergens. Chester also says over-the-counter medications to treat the symptoms work for many people. Talk to your pharmacist about your symptoms and what medicines might be best. About Georgetown University Medical Center Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical Translation and Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. In fiscal year 2010-11, GUMC accounted for 85 percent of the university’s sponsored research funding.