Ragweed Allergy Facts

  • Ragweed3Also called hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis.
  • Ragweed is considered the most allergenic of all pollens.
  • There are 17 different species of ragweed plants present in the US.
  • At least 1 in 10 people in the US is sensitive to ragweed pollen.
  • Ragweed plants live only one season, but a single plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains.
  • Ragweed season is most severe in the Eastern and Midwest States, however, the plants can be found in every US state except Alaska.

When is Ragweed Season?

RagweedSeasonIn the past, ragweed season began in mid-August and ran through September, but nowadays it seems to last 3-4 weeks longer, starting the first of August through mid-October. Many experts suspect changes in global climate are a contributing factor in these longer pollen seasons. The length of ragweed season is dependent upon warm (above 50° F), but not too hot temperatures.

Symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Sniffling
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sleep disruption
  • Red, puffy eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • Hives

Severe cases can lead to chronic sinus problems and asthma attacks.

These symptoms are caused by body’s immune system reacting to a foreign substance, in this case, ragweed, that is actually harmless. Antibodies made by specialized immune cells mix with proteins in the pollen and cause biochemical reactions that flood the bloodstream with histamine, a compound which is responsible for your allergy symptoms.

Concomitant Foods for Ragweed

Completely avoid:

  • milk
  • melons
  • cucumber
  • mint
  • zucchini
  • chamomile

Eat with caution:

  • banana
  • echinacea
  • pumpkin
  • sunflower seeds

Helpful Steps

  • Mark your calendar to remind you to take medication before ragweed allergy symptoms start.
  • Close windows in your home and car, since ragweed pollen travels in the wind.
  • Check daily pollen counts for your area. They tend to be highest on warm, dry and breezy days.
  • Try to avoid being outdoors during peak pollen hours. Pollen counts tend to be highest between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • After being outdoors shower, change and wash your clothes.
  • You can clean your nasal passages with a salt water rinse.
  • Nasal and eye symptoms can linger after the pollen can longer be detected in the air, so don’t stop your allergy medication immediately.

If your medications aren’t helping clear up your symptoms consider seeing an allergist who can provide more effective treatment. One option is immunotherapy, or allergy shots. This treatment involves regular injections with pollen allergens. Allergy shots can greatly reduce or get rid of nasal and eye allergy symptoms altogether. Shots can also reduce medication use.