Summer has finally come to an end, and allergies are a thing of the past until next year. Or so you may think! If you’re still sneezing and sniffling all day and night, you may be one of the 10%-30% of the population that suffers from hay fever, an allergic reaction to a type of plant commonly known as ragweed.
Like all allergies, ragweed allergies occur when the body’s immune system is triggered by a foreign substance that actually poses no danger to the body at all. In this case, the substance is the pollen released by the flowers of a mature ragweed plant. Along with sneezing, sniffling and stuffy nose, you may also find that your eyes become red, dry and itchy. Unfortunately, Ragweed is impossible to avoid altogether.
The pollen of a ragweed plant is almost impossible to avoid completey. It is so light, and catches the wind so easily, that ragweed pollen has been found in evidence hundreds of miles out to sea and as far as 2 miles up in the air. There are things that you can do, however, to help you reduce the amount of ragweed that you are exposed to, in order to minimize your reaction. These include:
- Staying indoors as much as possible between the times of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. These are the times at which pollen counts are statistically highest. Tracking the pollen count in your area can help you take special precautions on days when it is particularly high.
- At home and in the car, leave the windows closed and the air conditioning on. Pollen will not be able to come through the window if it is closed, and air conditioning tends to filter much of the pollen out of the air it pulls in from outside. Be sure to change the filter on your air conditioner every three months or so, to ensure that it is able to continue to filter your air properly.
- Be sure to change your clothes after spending time outdoors, and dry them in a dryer rather than on a line, where they might get dusted with pollen.
- Shower before bed to get rid of pollen that may still be sticking to you, especially in your hair and on your face.
Besides the above steps, immunotherapy has proven particularly effective at helping as much as 85% of people with their ragweed allergies. Injections or under-tongue drops are done over the course of a few months every allergy season. Within 3 years, many will be completely healed, while others experience a significant reduction in symptoms. However, some people will not experience any benefit at all.
For more information about ragweed allergies, contact your doctor today.