The primary reason for fall allergies in the United States is ragweed pollen. A ragweed plant only lives one season, but it is very powerful. A single plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. These grains are very lightweight and float easily through the air. Allergies occur when the body’s immune system treats an allergen, such as ragweed, like a foreign invader. This starts a chemical reaction that produces and sends histamine throughout the bloodstream causing allergy symptoms.
Symptoms of ragweed allergy are similar to those of other pollen allergies including:
• Runny nose
• Nasal congestion • Headaches
• Irritated eyes • Itchy throat
The best way to control your allergy is to minimize contact with the pollen. There is no cure for ragweed allergy but it can be managed. Receiving the correct diagnosis is the first step in managing your symptoms. An allergist will give you a physical exam, ask about your health history and perform allergy testing to determine exactly what you are and are not allergic to.
Remember that pollen can go into your home via your clothes, your hair or your pet — so change your clothes after being outside for long periods, shower before going to bed and wash your hands after petting an animal that has been outside. Also, keep your windows closed at all times, both at home and in the car.
People who experience ragweed allergies are also often sensitive to certain foods. This is because some plants can contain pollen that is similar to ragweed. This condition is known as oral allergy syndrome. Some foods that may cause symptoms in a person with a ragweed allergy include bananas, cantaloupes, chamomile tea, cucumber, honey that contains pollen, sunflower seeds, or zucchini.
Ragweed allergies can be treated with antihistamines and other allergy medications. Your allergist/immunologist can provide a long-term treatment plan which can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms caused by allergic rhinitis. Schedule an appointment with one of AllergySA’s experienced medical staff by calling 210-616-0882 and allow us to assist you in detecting any allergies you may be suffering from.