Allergen of the Month: Ragweed
As part of our ongoing Allergy of the Month series, today we’re looking at the notorious fall allergen, ragweed.
Ragweed, or Ambrosia psilostachya, is much less “food of the gods” and more eye-watering, sneezing and coughing. You might already be familiar with ragweed if you suffer from fall allergies, and as the fall allergy season is beginning to ramp up, we’re helping everyone brush up on their knowledge of this unsavory plant.
• Up to ½ of all cases of pollen-related allergic rhinitis in North America are caused by ragweed
• There are 17 different species of ragweed in the US and most are common in rural areas of the East and Midwest
• A simple ragweed plant can release ~1 billion grains of pollen over the course of one ragweed season
• An itchy throat, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes are all symptoms of an allergic reaction to ragweed
When to Expect Ragweed Allergies
Late summer and early fall are prime ragweed allergy season. If you’ve been told by a doctor in the past that you’re suffering from hay fever, it might be due to ragweed. Ragweed pollen is transported by the wind, and particles are at their lowest concentration around 6:00 a.m., reaching peak concentration in the air around midday. Ragweed pollen can remain airborne for days at a time, but rain can help remove it from the air.
How to Prevent Exposure to Ragweed
The short answer is, you really can’t. While you can consult with your doctor and take over the counter or prescription medications to combat symptoms of allergies, it’s challenging to avoid ragweed altogether. To limit your exposure, try some of these tips:
• Check pollen counts before you make outdoor plans. If there are high concentrations of ragweed pollen in the air, avoid outdoor activities such as picnics and outdoor sports. Instead, opt for a trip to the movies or an indoor game.
• Keep your windows closed during allergy season, both at home and in your car, to avoid letting pollen into your home.
• Keep in mind that ragweed pollen can travel into your home on your clothes, in your hair, or on your pet. Changing your clothes after being outside, showering, and washing your hands after petting an animal that has been outside are a few ways to cut down on ragweed pollen in your home.
• Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter. An air purifier like Airmega can help reduce the number of allergens in your home, and its HEPA air filters trap 99.97 percent of particles.