When the long, lazy summer days get a little bit shorter you know that right around the corner the school year will begin. If every year about this time you or your children suffer from symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing and itchy, red eyes you just may be allergic to ragweed. Asthma can also flare up during fall allergy season. Ragweed is one of the most common culprits of fall allergies. If you educate yourself on how ragweed can affect allergy sufferers, your fall season may be a bit more enjoyable.
Ragweed Allergy Signs and Symptoms
Listed below are the telltale signs of a possible allergic response:
- Eye irritation: itching, swelling, redness
- Repetitive sneezing
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy throat and inside of ears
- Prickly feeling in the throat and inside of ears
- Symptoms of asthma: chronic cough, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
Something that is important to understand is that those suffering from allergies to one type of plant pollen (or to dust mites, pet dander, and/or fungi and mold) are more likely to develop allergies to other pollens. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, approximately 10-20 percent of Americans suffer from ragweed allergy. Individuals with eczema and asthma often times also react to ragweed and other pollen producing plants.
Even specific foods can trigger allergic symptoms with those sensitive to ragweed. Cantaloupe, bananas, sunflower seeds, chamomile tea or honey containing pollen from Compositae plant family members may cause allergic reactions with those exhibiting ragweed allergic symptoms. Many species aside from ragweed are included in this larger family of plants called Compositae including: sage, burweed marsh elder, rabbit brush, mugworts, groundsel bush, goldenrods, marigolds, zinnias and sunflowers. Each plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. Ragweed flowers mature and release pollen as summer nights lengthen and humidity levels drop.
Pollen Count Link
The National Allergy Bureau (NABTM) is the section of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology’s (AAAAI) Aeroallergen Network that is responsible for reporting current pollen levels to physicians and the public.
When Is the Safest Time to Be Outside?
- Ragweed season begins early August and ends sometime in mid October.
- Before 10 AM and after 3 PM. Counts are lower in the early morning and late afternoon. If it rains then a soggy day keeps the pollen count lower. Wet springs lead to larger ragweed plants which means a tougher allergy season for ragweed allergies.
- When nights are cool and days are warm and dry ragweed pollen counts are on the rise.
- Change your clothing often, wash your hands and shower if you have been outside.
- Keep your windows closed and use a HEPA filter when you run your air conditioning in your home.
If you suffer from the symptoms above getting tested for ragweed allergies by your allergist or family doctor is advisable. Seventeen types of ragweed grow in North America however two are the most common. These include:
- Common ragweed Ambrosia artemisiifolia pictured above can be found from just a few inches up to 6 feet in height. It grows in tall, vertical tendrils with leaves divided into numerous fine lobes. Its flowers are rows of off-white blooms that resemble upside-down tea cups.
- Giant ragweed Ambrosia trifida has fewer and rounder leaves than common ragweed, with three to five distinct lobes. The tea cup like flowers look similar but it can grow up to 18 feet high.
Ragweed thrives in nutrient depleted soil and Round up resistant ragweed is now plaguing farmers. Symptoms can occur with as little as one pollen grain per cubit foot. The pollen grains are thrust out of the florets with tiny bottlebrush-like mechanisms ensuring the plants will continue to propagate every year.
Hay fever occurs when the immune system overreacts to ragweed and other allergens like grass and trees. Inflammatory chemicals called histamines are released to counteract the allergens entering into the body. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) one in five people are affected by hay fever symptoms often called "seasonal allergic rhinitis".
Integrative Approaches to Ragweed Allergies
Before we offer some integrative options we want to emphasize the importance of getting diagnosed by a medical provider. Your level of allergic response my require steroids, antihistamines and other medical options. At Purely Integrative we have several products that can support your body during allergy season. Our top two picks are Sabadil and D-Hist.
Sabadil's homeopathic active ingredients include:
Allium cepa 5C HPUS which relieves runny nose associated with allergies, Ambrosia artemisiaefolia 5C HPUS demonstrated in studies to relieve spasmodic cough associated with hay fever, Euphrasia officinalis 5C HPUS helps reduce symptoms of burning, irritated eyes, Histaminum hydrochloricum 9C HPUS which alleviates allergic conditions, Sabadilla 5C HPUS which relieves sneezing and itchy throat associated with allergies and Solidago virgaurea 5C HPUS that assists with reducing abundant nasal discharge.
D-Hist Jr. includes quercetin, a powerful flavonoid to support healthy histamine levels. It supplies bromelain to enhance the absorption of quercetin and to support mucosal tissue health and stinging nettles leaf to balance hyper-immune response. N-acetyl cysteine clears the airways by promoting normal viscosity of mucus. This unique nutritional combination safely promotes healthy nasal and sinus passages for children with elevated histamine and respiratory irritation. We also offer D-Hist for those who prefer an adult dose.