Ragweed Counts on the Rise

September 5, 2013 6:59 pm


Ragweed is a weed that grows almost anywhere but especially in the east and midwest of the United States. From the middle of August until the first hard frost ragweed blooms and releases pollen—a very fine powder into the air. Ragweed pollen levels are highest in mid-September.

The Ragweed pollen count changes with the time of day and weather (rain, humidity, sun, and wind). For example, they are likely higher on warm, breezy days and lower on chilly, wet days. Ragweed pollen is usually highest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., depending upon the weather.

When ragweed pollen in the air enters the nose and throat of people who are allergic to that pollen, it can cause allergy and asthma symptoms. Ragweed allergy symptoms include sneezing; runny or stuffy nose, itching in the throat or inside of the ears; hives; and swollen eyelids and itchy eyes. Some people also have asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing or trouble breathing.

The first step in managing a ragweed allergy is to limit your exposure to the pollen by:

· Wash your hands often. Pollen can stick to your hands when you touch something outside or a pet, if it has been outside.

· Limit your time outdoors when ragweed counts are high.

· Wear a dust mask that people like carpenters use (found in hardware stores) when you need to do outdoor tasks such as cutting the grass or raking leaves.

· Don’t wear your outdoor work clothes in the house; they may have pollen on them.

· Shower or rinse off including your hair before going to bed. After you’ve been outside, the pollens get into your hair and clothing. If you haven’t bathed or removed your clothing before bedtime, the pollens get into the bedding.

· Wash bedding often.

· Clean and replace furnace and air conditioner filters often. Using HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters is recommended, which remove at least 99 percent of pollen, as well as animal dander, dust and other particles.

· Keep the windows and doors closed as much as possible.

· Use a clothes dryer rather than outdoor clothes lines.

Secondly, medications which may be helpful in managing the allergy and asthma symptoms include:

· Decongestants

· Anti-histamines

· Leukotreine inhibitors

· Inhaled corticosteroids

· Inhaled bronchodilators

· Oral steroids

Before starting any medications, discuss your medical management plan with your doctor.


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