Ragweed – The Most Common Fall Culprit

With fall quickly approaching, allergy sufferers may be noticing a sudden increase in their symptoms. The most likely culprit? Ragweed! Ragweed is one of the most common allergens with a whopping 17 varieties found all over North America. In fact, it is estimated that 3 out of 4 allergy sufferers are allergic to Ragweed pollen, creating a problem for more than thirty million Americans each fall.

What is Ragweed?

Ragweed is a weed pollen that unfortunately thrives and grows just about anywhere. It is most commonly found along the sides of roads, in river banks, vacant lots, and unkempt lawns and properties. In one year, one ragweed plant can produce over 1 billion pollen spores! While a lot of this pollen will fall to the ground, even more of it will be transplanted by the wind. This means that even if these weeds aren’t found in your direct vicinity, the pollens most certainly will be. Ragweed pollens have been found up to hundreds of miles offshore and up to two miles high into the atmosphere!

When is it in bloom?

Ragweed is found in the environment from August through mid October in most places. The first frost of the season is usually a good indication of impending relief for a lot of sufferers. However, in warmer climates such as Florida, these pollens could linger for much longer if winter proves to be warmer than expected.

What can allergy sufferers do to combat Ragweed?

  1. Close windows and run air conditioner: Closing the windows will keep much of the pollen from entering the home and running the air conditioner will work to keep moisture out of the air and eliminates the chances of mold development, which could further aggravate a Ragweed allergy.
  2. Wear a mask: While this might not be the most ideal options, it can greatly reduce pollen exposure when outdoors. Make the sure the mask is tight fitting around the nose and mouth to ensure that no pollen is being breathed in through the sides.
  3. Washing hands regularly: This is especially important for the patient that has pets that go outdoors. These pets become a vehicle for pollen transport and when we touch them, this can become airborne indoors. Wash your hands frequently and increase pet bathing during the fall to help combat the amount of pollen sticking to them.
  4. Over the counter medication: OTC medications such as Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra can work wonders for combating allergy symptoms. These medications work to prevent the release of histamine in the body, the chemical that is responsible for the symptoms we know so well.
  5. Allergy testing and immunotherapy: Last but certainly not least, consider having an allergy test done to confirm your suspected allergies. Once the test is done, you may be surprised to discover you are a candidate for immunotherapy, the only proven way to eliminate allergies for good!
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