Not only is ragweed pollen easy to produce, but also it can travel a distance. The pollen travels in the wind and can reach widespread proportions and even survive a mild winter. This means that some people can suffer from a ragweed allergy year-round, not just in the fall. Ragweed pollen can even float; it’s been found as far as 400 miles out to sea and two miles up in the atmosphere.
Signs and Symptoms of a Ragweed Allergy
It’s hard to determine if you have a ragweed allergy based on your symptoms alone since the reaction can mimic an allergy to something else. Seeing an allergy doctor is best because you can narrow down your particular allergy. That said, here are some symptoms to keep an eye on that could indicate a ragweed allergy. These symptoms are most likely to hit in mid-August and run through the first frost of the season, which usually occurs in mid-October.
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- Sinus pressure
- Decreased smell or taste
- Contact dermatitis
How to Improve Symptoms
Because ragweed is so widespread and hard to avoid, you will probably need medications to make you more comfortable. Typically, the first line of defense is to avoid the allergen, but in this case, it’s nearly impossible. But, there are effective things you can do to improve your symptoms.
- Stay indoors when the counts are high. Usually, it’s between 10 am and 4 pm. If you enjoy running in the mornings, for instance, try to switch your routine to the evening when pollen counts are lower.
- Keep the windows in your home and car closed. It’s hard to do this when you get the first crisp days of fall, but it’s in your best interest. If you must open the windows, do so on lower pollen days and during off-peak hours.
- Clean your air filters. Now that the fall is here, replace the air filter in your home. If it’s clogged with dirt and debris, it won’t do a good job of removing pollen from the air.
- Change your clothes. If you’ve spent time outdoors, change your clothes so that you don’t bring the pollen into your home. Also, shower at night so you can remove pollen from your hair.
- Take the medication. Talk to your allergy doctor about the best medications to take for your allergies. Many options are available such as antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays. Irrigation with a salt-based solution is safe and effective as well.