Cooling temps, pumpkin spice lattes, changing leaves, and broken-in sweatshirts from a beloved alma mater, all these are signals for one of our favorite times of year—fall.
It’s also the time when ragweed pollen is at its peak.
With 17 known species of ragweed growing across most regions of the United States, tens of millions of people suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever. (Some people have a fever for more cowbell, but that’s a different blog post altogether.) But don’t worry. The doctors at Allergy & Asthma Care, Inc. will have you symptom-improved or symptom-free and tailgating your ride-or-die team again in no time.
What are the symptoms of ragweed allergy?
- Runny Nose
- Nasal Congestion
- Itchy/Watery Eyes
How do I know I’m allergic to ragweed and not allergic to say…back-to-school?
While many students and teachers return to the classroom with allergy symptoms or develop them shortly thereafter, back-to-school in most parts of the country does coincidentally occur when the fine-powder pollen produced by ragweed begins and reaches its peak between August and November. However, to confirm the diagnosis, your allergist can perform a skin test. A skin test is when a diluted version of the suspected allergen is applied onto the surface of the skin. Allergic reaction or no reaction usually occurs within fifteen minutes of application.
There are many treatment options for hay fever. Watching local pollen counts and taking OTC antihistamines or prescription meds 2-12 weeks before symptoms are expected to be at their worst is one way. Allergy shots to build the body’s resistance to the allergen is another. Consult with your doctor to find out which option is right for you.
That seems simple enough. Anything else I should know?
Just as pollen counts in spring and summer are highest in the evening, the opposite is true of fall. Take extra precautions in the morning, when most people’s sensitivities will be at their highest. And just like carbs or nosy neighbors, avoidance is key.
- Keep doors and windows closed at all times.
- Know what you’re sensitive to and when you’re sensitive to it.
- Wash your hands, clothes, shoes, and pets after being outside for a prolonged period of time. Pollen can stick to just about anything and get tracked inside your home.
But wait. There’s one more thing!
Ragweed pollen can also trigger other allergy symptoms. People with hay fever symptoms sometimes experience itchy mouth, scratchy throat, swelling of lips, mouth, tongue or throat from eating raw fruits, vegetables or certain tree nuts. This is known as oral allergy syndrome. Since the protein in these raw foods are similar enough to pollen, they can trick the immune system into triggering an allergic response. It might be a good idea to peel, cook or can fruits and vegetables to prevent the symptoms of oral allergy syndrome.
Consult with your doctor.
If you think ragweed might be affecting you, check in with your doctor. To find the right treatment for you, make an appointment with one of our board-certified allergists at one of our five locations.