July 19, 2021
Ragweed Allergies: Prevention, Symptoms, & Treatment
If the end of summer and early fall is the worst time of year for your allergies, you may have ragweed to blame. But you’re not alone! Nearly 60 million Americans suffer from allergies. While, avoidance is a common tactic for allergy sufferers, but ragweed can be hard to avoid. Luckily there are many ways to reduce allergy symptoms and manage your allergies.
When is ragweed allergy season?
Ragweed can be a year-round issue for people in warmer places like Texas and Florida, but ragweed season is at its worst from late August through October. Ragweed pollen usually reaches peak levels in mid-September and this type of pollen can cause hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis). You may not see the ragweed pollen in the air, but your body can react to even the smallest amounts.
Which type of ragweed am I allergic to?
If you’re allergic to ragweed, it’s very common to be allergic to more than one type. There are seventeen types of ragweed, but only a few are responsible for allergy symptoms. Stay on top of your game and find out what ragweed are in your area!
The most common types of allergy-causing ragweed are:
· Common ragweed
· Giant Ragweed
· Burweed marsh elder
· Rabbit brush
· Groundsel bush
Many regions of the United States have a predominance of one or more types of these ragweed plants. In order to know exactly what ragweed plants you’re specifically allergic to, you can get an allergy test.
Symptoms of ragweed allergies
Ragweed allergies bring on the typical allergy symptoms, which are:
· Runny nose (Nasal drainage)
· Stuffy nose (Nasal congestion)
· Itchy, watery eyes
· Itchy nose, eyes, ears and mouth
In addition to the usual suspects of ragweed allergy symptoms, it’s also common for more severe ragweed allergy sufferers to experience:
Ragweed pollen can also aggravate asthma symptoms, leading to increased coughing and wheezing.
Inflammation and congestion in the nasal cavity from allergies often lead to headaches, especially around the face.
Allergens in the air, such as pollen, can irritate your throat when you breathe them in. If you breathe through your mouth because of a stuffy nose, especially while sleeping, the air flow also could dry out your throat and make it feel itchy.
How do I prevent symptoms caused by a ragweed allergy?
Here are 10 ways you can reduce symptoms from ragweed allergy:
1. Limit time outside when the pollen counts are high. Check your local forecast and pollen count everyday. We like the Pollen.com app. It’s super easy and you can easily add different cities to your radar.
2. On high ragweed pollen count days, plan indoor activities like bowling, a museum, or watching a movie!
3. Keep windows closed and use an air conditioner with a HEPA filter on hot days.
4. Get rid of ragweed by plucking the plants out at the root, ideally before pollination starts.
5. Bathe and shampoo your hair every day before bed to remove pollen and keep it out of your bed.
6. Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
7. Wear sunglasses and a hat to keep pollen out of your eyes and off your hair.
8. Don’t forget about your pets! Wipe off their paws and fur with a towel before letting them into the home. Also, keep pets off the bed and out of your bedroom.
9. Remove shoes before entering your home and vacuum at least once a week! A cordless vacuum will make this task much easier – and maybe even more fun.
Don’t tough it out, seek relief with over the counter medications and enjoy your summer. Start by trying a newer, non-sedating antihistamine for daily control during the height of ragweed pollen season.
Treating your ragweed allergy
Short Team Relief
There are many things you can do to improve symptoms. Over the counter medications won’t solve the underlying issue but they will relieve your symptoms for 24-48 hours.
Saline Nasal Sprays and Rinses
Nasal saline sprays are available over-the-counter and involve spraying saline, or salt water, in your nostrils. Nasal saline rinses involve filling a bottle with water, putting a modified salt packet in the bottle, mixing it and rinsing out your nose.
Nasal antihistamines are nasal sprays that have antihistamines. Antihistamines are different from steroids, and usually work quite quickly to bring relief of symptoms. Some people note a bitter taste with nasal antihistamines. As with any medications, they have other potential side effects so one must discuss them with an allergist prior to use.
Oral antihistamines are pills that can help with allergy symptoms. They can help the nasal drainage and sneezing symptoms. However, they usually do not help nasal congestion, as nasal steroid sprays can.
Long term relief
If you really want to tackle your ragweed allergies for good, the best thing to do is get an allergy test to confirm your allergy and start immunotherapy. Immunotherapy introduces small amounts of the allergen over time, letting your body build up a tolerance so it no longer sees it as a threat.
Allergy drops (or sublingual immunotherapy)
Allergy drops are placed under the tongue daily and can be done at home, on your own terms. Allergy drops are equally as effective as allergy shots, and have no severe anaphylactic reactions reported, like sometimes happens with allergy shots. The typical length of treatment is three to five years for long lasting relief.
Allergy shots are performed on a regular basis (usually weekly or monthly) in the office as there is the potential of allergic reactions to them. Like allergy drops, the length of treatment is three to five years.
Ragweed allergies and children
September is here, and that means it’s ragweed season. The end of summer is already something every child dreads, but ragweed makes the back-to-school season a lot more difficult for some kids.
Ragweed is an allergen that affects loads of people, and the worst most don’t even realize they’re allergic to it and will usually see these allergy symptoms as a cold that their child picked up from other kids at school. It comes at a time of year when we’re so busy doing other things that allergies are the last thing on our mind. Ragweed, like a large number of other allergens, causes cold-like symptoms like sneezing, congestion, and irritated eyes that parents attribute to their child being surrounded by more kids.
How to know if ragweed affects your child
When determining if your child is allergic to ragweed, it’s always best to get an allergy test. But if your son or daughter seems to have a cold every time September rolls around, it’s safe to say that ragweed is a major suspect.
The unfortunate news about ragweed is that it’s going to be worse than usual in the coming years. Rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels could extend the ragweed season by a month or two.