Allergens are all around us, which can make us feel miserable because of itchy eyes and sneezing. At some point during the year, it has been estimated that around 20 percent of the population in the United States (50 to 60 million people) struggle with allergies.
The leaves start to fall as the ragweed season winds down in the Northeastern United States ramping up the production of mold. These are soft-stemmed weeds that are cultivated all over the US. In North America, there are at least 17 species of this plant. Between the fall months and late spring, ragweed release pollen (tiny grains) so that fertilization of other ragweed plants can take place. The ragweed starts to spread its pollen from the last week of July till the mid of October. Ragweed pollen is the mother of fall allergens. The immune response of many people in the northeastern US is adverse when they breathe in the pollen.
Basically, our immune system plays an important role in defending the body against harmful invaders, for example, bacteria and viruses, to ward off illnesses. Therefore, the immune system of people who suffer from ragweed allergies mistakes ragweed pollen as a harmful substance and starts producing chemicals to fight against it. This reaction results in a number of irritating symptoms, such as
- Poor sleep quality
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Decreased sense of taste or smell
- Bluish-colored and swollen skin beneath the eyes
- Facial pain due to sinus pressure
- Wheezing or coughing
- Congestion or runny nose
- Scratchy throat
Symptoms can even become worse because of other irritants, such as air pollution, strong odors, and tobacco smoke.
Who Is At Higher Risk?
If you are allergic to other constituents then the possibility to get an allergy from ragweed pollen is high. However, if you are already allergic to pet dander, mold, dust mites and other types of pollens, such as tree pollen, then you are not at a higher risk for ragweed allergies.
Treatment of Ragweed Allergy
It is not easy to avoid ragweed pollen, thus you are likely to suffer from continuous allergic reactions. However, there are several treatments that may help in relieving the symptoms due to ragweed allergy.
Following are the drugs help in easing symptoms of the allergy.
- Medications that combine a decongestant and antihistamine, such as Claritin-D and Actifed
- Nasal corticosteroids, including mometasone (Nasonex) or fluticasone (Flonase)
- Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin)
- Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) or oxymetazoline (Afrin nasal spray)
If medicines are not working, then allergy shots are suggested by doctors. These shots aid in reducing the seriousness of your allergic reactions.
Foods to Avoid
There are some herbs and foods that contain proteins similar to those present in ragweed pollen, therefore, this may cause an allergic reaction. These include:
- Honeydew Melons
You can prevent ragweed allergy from occurring if you make certain lifestyle adjustments, such as avoid going outside in the morning, dry clothes in a dryer, and vacuum the house every week.