If you’re allergic to pollen, you might think of spring as the time of year to work on managing your allergies. But, about three-fourths of people who are allergic to pollen are also allergic to ragweed, which blooms in the fall.
Understanding the symptoms of ragweed allergy is the first step in managing the problem. The experts at Apex Medical Center see patients who aren’t even aware they have a ragweed allergy each year — most of the time they think they just have a cold. In this post, we share some of our best tips for managing your allergies this season.
Ragweed grows in every state except Alaska, and there are 17 different varieties. One of the reasons that ragweed is so widespread is that it can tolerate very poor conditions.
Most often ragweed blooms from August and peaks in mid-September, but some blooms can linger until as late as November. Each plant can release one billion tiny, lightweight grains of pollen. If you find yourself sneezing, but you don’t see any ragweed in the vicinity, the allergen could have traveled hundreds of miles!
In other words, there’s really nowhere you can hide from ragweed pollen.
Symptoms of ragweed allergy
The symptoms of an allergy to ragweed are very similar to the symptoms of any pollen allergy and include:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Irritated eyes
- An itchy throat
Ragweed may also make your asthma symptoms worse if you have it. Some people who have ragweed allergy also have oral allergy syndrome (OAS) which can make your mouth feel itchy. If your mouth feels itchy or tingly when you eat cantaloup, banana, watermelon, or sunflower seeds, it could be due to OAS.
Managing ragweed allergy
Here are some of our best tips for getting through ragweed season.
1. Track the pollen count
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) has a handy tool that allows you to see what the pollen count is in your area. You can use it to help you know what conditions are, and how carefully you should take precautions.
2. Limit outside time during peak hours
Try to avoid going outside between 10am and 3pm if the pollen count is high. Early morning and late afternoon are usually better for people with ragweed allergies.
3. Use your AC
On a lovely late summer day, you may be tempted to open your windows and enjoy some fresh air, but if you’re allergic to ragweed it’s a bad idea. Use an air filter and keep your windows closed — and the pollen out!
4. Cover your hair
Use a hat or a scarf to cover your hair when you go outside. Pollen can cling to your hair and follow you inside. You may even want to take a quick shower after being outside.
5. Change your clothes
Just as ragweed pollen can cling to your hair, it can stay on your clothing, too. Change your clothes when you come back in to limit your exposure.
6. Dry your clothes inside
Using a clothesline has some advantages, but during ragweed season, it can make your symptoms much worse.
Talk to a medical professional
If these tips don’t help enough, schedule an appointment at one of the three convenient locations of Apex Medical Center. We’re happy to discuss your situation, and there are treatments for ragweed allergies that may help.