Ragweed is a flowering plant that grows in late summer to early autumn, generally August through October. It is a common allergen, triggering symptoms in about 20% of the population.
Ragweed creates and releases tremendous amounts of pollen, a fine dust composed of the plant’s male DNA. Each plant can release as much as one billion grains into the atmosphere! The pollen is light and transmitted through wind, allowing it to travel great distances. Though it started as a North American plant, it is now seen in most places around the world.
Symptoms of Ragweed Allergy
Ragweed pollen can cause the following symptoms:
- Nasal congestion
- Sneezing and sniffing
- Itchy, red eyes
- Puffy eyes
- Itchy throat
- Asthma symptoms in those with asthma
- Skin irritations (rashes, large welts or spots)
- Sinus inflammation
How to Avoid Ragweed Pollen
Completely avoiding ragweed pollen may not be possible, but taking the following precautions can help to reduce your exposure:
- Keep windows shut. Use a HEPA filter with central air-conditioning, which not only creates a comfortable, cool environment but also removes pollen from the air.
- Remain indoors when pollen count is high. Counts are usually reported in the local news, both on television and online. The counts are lower on days with rain, cold temperatures and no wind. It is also lower in the early morning and late afternoon, before 10:00 am and after 4:00 pm.
- Use a dryer for clothes. Pollen can cling to the laundry hung outside.
- Bathe as soon as you get home. Since pollen can stick to clothing and skin, change your clothes and shower after you enter your house.
- Use a nasal irrigator: Use a neti pot to flush your nasal passages.
Foods That Can Trigger Ragweed Allergies
Certain foods may act as a trigger for ragweed allergy reactions and should be avoided:
- Herbal teas, like Echinacea, hibiscus or chamomile