Ragweed allergy affects nearly 23 million Americans. It is triggered by the pollen from ragweed plants, typically in late summer and fall.
There are 17 species of ragweed in the U.S. Ragweed pollen is exceptionally light and can travel up to 400 miles in the wind, making it hard to avoid. Exposure leads to the body releasing histamines, which cause allergic symptoms.
Even if ragweed doesn’t grow in your area, its pollen can still be in the air. Indoor and outdoor management strategies can help manage symptoms.
When is Ragweed Season?
Ragweed season typically starts in mid-August and can last through October. However, the exact timing can vary depending on the geographical location.
In Northern regions, ragweed tends to bloom later and end earlier, whereas, in Southern areas, the season can last longer. Ragweed pollen counts are usually highest in the morning, particularly on warm, dry, and windy days.
Ragweed season often ends with the first hard frost, but indoor exposure to the pollen can continue, as it can be brought inside on clothing or pets and remain on surfaces or in the air.
Ragweed allergy symptoms are similar to those of other seasonal allergies. Common symptoms include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, and itchy throat or ears.
Some people may also experience headaches, fatigue, or worsening asthma symptoms. In severe cases, ragweed allergy can cause allergic conjunctivitis (red, swollen eyes) or allergic rhinitis (chronic sneezing or a congested, drippy nose).
These symptoms can interfere with quality of life, disrupting sleep and daily activities. Treatment options include over-the-counter and prescription medications, allergy shots, and avoidance strategies.
Foods that May Trigger Ragweed Allergy Symptoms
In a condition known as Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), some people with ragweed allergies may also have allergic reactions to certain foods due to cross-reactivity, where proteins in these foods mimic ragweed pollen. These foods include bananas, melons like cantaloupe and honeydew, zucchini, cucumber, and chamomile tea.
Some may experience mouth itching or mild swelling shortly after eating these foods, particularly during ragweed season. It’s essential to consult with an allergist if you suspect you have OAS, as reactions can occasionally be more serious. Cooking or peeling these foods may prevent reactions in some cases.
Cooking the food may eliminate the problem, but always seek medical advice if you have food-related allergy symptoms.
Tips to Manage Ragweed Allergy Symptoms:
Controlling ragweed allergy involves several helpful steps:
- Stay indoors on high pollen-count days, especially during peak morning hours.
- Keep windows closed and use air conditioning at home and in the car.
- Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove pollen from indoor air.
- Shower and change clothes after being outdoors to remove pollen.
- Consider over-the-counter or prescription medications, like antihistamines, decongestants, or nasal corticosteroids.
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy) can also help by gradually desensitizing your immune system to the pollen.
- Avoid cross-reactive foods if you have Oral Allergy Syndrome.
- Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.
If you suffer from Ragweed allergies and need help managing symptoms and reactions, contact the ENT Centers of North Texas today and start imagining your life free from allergies!