How to avoid Fall Ragweed Allergy
Back to school and back to allergy season. The sneezing and sniffling has returned and more than likely you’re suffering from pollen allergy a.k.a allergic rhinitis or hay fever. You’re not the only one – 30 million Americans do.
Hay fever stems from a glitch in the immune system. Instead of attracting harmful foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses, your immune system tries to neutralize “invaders’ that are ordinarily quite harmless – in this case pollen grains that fill the air from August through October.
What happens is when these tiny particles are inhaled – it triggers a cascade of biochemical reactions, resulting in the release of histamine, – which causes the all-too familiar symptoms such as:
– Post-nasal drip
– Itchy eyes nose and throat
– Dark circles around the eyes
– Asthma attacks
So what is the prime cause of these types of allergies? If your allergies act up at certain times of the year, you may be allergic to pollen. In the spring, pollinating trees are usually to blame for allergies. In summer, grasses and weeds are the main culprits. In fall, it’s weeds, especially ragweed.
What is Ragweed?
Many plant varieties can cause hay fever, but the 17 varieties of ragweed that grow in North America pose the biggest threat. Three out of four people who are allergic to pollen have a ragweed allergy.
A hardy annual, ragweed thrives just about anywhere turf grasses and other perennials haven’t taken root — along roads and riverbanks, in vacant lots, and so on. Over the course of a single year, one ragweed plant can produce a staggering one billion grains of pollen. And it doesn’t fall harmlessly to the ground. It floats on the breeze. Pollen has been found hundreds of miles out to sea and two miles up into the atmosphere.
How Do I try and protect myself from Ragweed allergies?
In your everyday life, it’s virtually impossible to protect your self from these types of allergies. However, there are ways to fight
– Keep your windows shut as much as possible and keep the air conditioner on Running the air conditioner will also help remove moisture from the air, which helps prevent the growth of mold, which can trigger allergies
– HEPA air filters can be helpful, especially if your home is carpeted. One per room is best, or if you find it pricey, utilize one in the room you spend the most time
– We know a mask it sounds strange and may look even weirder – but it really does work. Look for a facemask with an “N95” rating from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
– Whenever you come in from outside, wash your face and hands. If you’ve been exposed to outdoor air for quite a while, shower and change into fresh clothes.
– This may be a buzz kill for those that like a soothing tea before bed, but chamomile contains proteins similar to the ones in ragweed, Also stay clear of banana’s and melons.
– Clean your nasal’s using a salt-water solution to wash pollen from your nostrils. It can be very effective at curbing hay fever symptoms. Use an over-the-counter irrigator , such as those sold under the brand names Ocean and Air.
If these pollen-avoidance strategies fail to bring relief, medical therapy may be in order. Nonprescription antihistamines, such Claritin and Zyrtec, are generally the first choice for mild to moderate symptoms (no need to pay extra for brand names, as generics cost less and work just as well).
If congestion as well as sneezing and a runny, itchy nose bother you, adding a decongestant such as Sudafed should help. There are also antihistamine-decongestant combinations available. These products generally include a “D” in the name, as in Tavist D. (If you have high blood pressure, ask Dr. Mariotti if taking a decongestant is OK. Some cause a potentially dangerous rise in blood pressure.)
For severe or persistent symptoms, a steroid nasal spray (Flonase, Nasonex, and so on.)
Ready to know more about your allergies and a proper diagnosis?
Contact Dr. Mariotti at 570-714-3434
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