Summer days are ending and the Fall is soon approaching. Are you still sneezing and sniffling? You may be suffering from hay fever, or allergic rhinitis. At this time of year, the culprit is most commonly, ragweed. Maturing ragweed flowers release tiny grains of pollen, which mount an immune response with histamine flooding the bloodstream. Symptoms of ragweed allergy are not only sneezing and sniffling, but you can also have red, itchy, puffy eyes, itchy throat, hives and in severe cases this can progress to sinus infections and asthma attacks.
Ragweed plants are most commonly found in rural areas of the Eastern states and the Midwest, but are found throughout the U.S. The ragweed grains are so light, they float easily on gentle breezes, as far as 400 miles out to sea and 2 miles up in the atmosphere. Some recent studies have shown that rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are extending the ragweed season. The season starts in August and continues through mid-October.
Some tips to reduce Ragweed exposure are to avoid being outdoors 10am-4pm, keep windows closed in the car and in your house, use HEPA filters, change your clothes after being outside for prolonged periods, and shower before going to bed. If symptoms set in, try a saline nasal irrigation or over the counter antihistamines, like claritin, zyrtec, or benedryl. If symptoms are severe, talk to your doctor about prescription medications, like singulair and nasal steroid sprays. (Medscape and FP Essentials).