Pollen, Pollen Everywhere—Ragweed Season in the Fall
Mid August marks the beginning of Ragweed Season, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). A stubborn, prolific plant, pollen released from ragweed is the airborne allergen most responsible for the onslaught of allergy symptoms this time of year.
If you notice in the fall that you’re sneezing more, your eyes are tearing up and you’re reaching for the tissue box, you’re not alone. You likely are one of the 35.9 million Americans who suffer from seasonal rhinitis (hay fever), which is triggered by ragweed.
Shorter days and longer nights that start in mid August stimulate pollination in the ragweed plant. The result: a continuing emergence of ragweed pollen for many areas in the United States from August to October. Each ragweed plant produces one billion pollen grains per average season. Because they are small and light, these grains can travel up to 400 miles. This means that even urban dwellers can feel the impact of this allergen, which commonly grows in fields, along the side of the road and in vacant lots.
After being exposed to ragweed pollen, people with allergies will often experience sneezing, a runny nose, and swollen, itchy, watery eyes. The AAAAI reports that 80% of patients with seasonal allergies also experience sleep problems, which can lead to fatigue, loss of concentration and poor performance at school and work. Lost work and school days, medications and physician office visits related to allergic rhinitis total more than $3 billion annually in the United States.
“Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis seriously impact not just people’s quality of life, but their ability to function well at work or school,” said Estelle Levetin, PhD, a Professor of Botany at the University of Tulsa and a member of the AAAAI’s National Allergy Bureau. “However, being aware of your surroundings, avoiding ragweed, and working with your physician do reduce symptoms.”
And if you think you are sneezing now more than you used to, you may be right. Some recent research has linked the higher levels of carbon dioxide due to global warming to the amount of pollen ragweed releases.
Tips to Help Allergy Sufferers Reduce Exposure to Ragweed
Get pollen count information from the national Allergy Bureau on our website www.texallergy.com.
Keep windows closed at night to prevent pollen and spores from drifting into your home. Use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.
Minimize outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. Peak pollen times are usually between 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Keep your car windows closed when traveling.
Try to stay indoors when humidity is reported to be high, and on windy days when dust and pollen are blown about.
Take vacations to more pollen-free areas, such as the beach or sea.
Take a shower after spending time outside—pollen can collect on your skin and hair.
Don’t hang sheets or clothing out to dry. Pollens and molds may collect on them.