Every year as the summer ends, thousands of Ohioans are plagued with allergy and cold-like symptoms because of ragweed.
Ragweed is a soft-stemmed plant that grows all over the United States but is especially prevalent in the Midwest. Often found in rural areas like South Central Ohio, ragweed plants release pollen into the air to fertilize other ragweed plants starting in mid-August. One plant can generate up to 1 billion pollen grains that can travel over a hundred miles.
It is during this time – starting in August, peaking in September and ending in late October – that ragweed allergy season occurs. Typically, the highest levels of ragweed pollen are in the air right after dawn, according to the National Allergy Bureau. Warm weather and humidity can help elevate pollen levels, while cooler temperatures and rain can help reduce them.
Ragweed is responsible for a large majority of allergy symptoms in Ohio, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The most common symptoms of ragweed allergies are itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; coughing; stuffy or runny nose; itchy nose and throat; or skin reactions such as dermatitis. When someone has a ragweed allergy, the immune system treats the pollen as a foreign invader and produces chemicals to fight it. This chemical reaction is what creates the symptoms.
To avoid allergic reactions and reduce the odds of getting ragweed symptoms:
- Avoid going outside or opening your windows in the morning and early afternoon.
- Shower and wash your clothes immediately after wearing them outdoors.
- Vacuum your home weekly.
- Circulate the air within your home using an air conditioner.
- Frequently bathe your pets if they spend time outdoors.
But because the ragweed pollen travels through the air, it’s difficult to avoid. As a result, allergy sufferers often can experience ongoing allergic reactions into the fall months.
Thankfully, there are several treatments that can help relieve ragweed allergy symptoms, including over-the-counter medications such as allergy eye drops, decongestants, antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids. For more severe cases, prescription eye drops, prescription medications and a series of immunotherapy allergy shots may be used if over-the-counter solutions aren’t enough.
For long-term relief, please schedule an appointment with one of the specialists in our Allergy and Immunology Department.
If you have questions or would like to request an appointment please call, 740-779-4393.