Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ragweed Causes Allergies: What you need to know!

One of the most common allergens in the fall is ragweed.  Normally ragweed doesn't begin to pester allergy suffers until fall officially begins, however with this summer’s cool weather, and long spells of little rain, we’ve already started to see ragweed begin to bloom this season.

Here are four things you need to know about ragweed:

What is ragweed?

Spoiler alert: Ragweed is a weed! It grows nearly anywhere but especially in the east coast and Midwest. Starting in the beginning of fall, ragweed blooms and begins to releases its pollen, which is a fine powder also made by trees, grasses, and flowers. The pollen is what people are allergic to! In NYC, ragweed pollen usually appears around August 15th, give or take a few days, and can be active until about November.

Here are a few images of what ragweed looks like. We’ve provided a close up image of the flowering pollen as well as an overview of the entire plant! Does this look familiar?


Ragweed can cause hay fever

As just mentioned, ragweed is a weed that releases pollen when it blooms. The pollen from ragweed can cause allergies for people who suffer from pollen related allergies.

Ragweed allergy symptoms include sneezing; itchy throat; runny or stuffy nose, hives, swollen eyelids and itchy eyes. These symptoms are often referred to as hay fever, or by its medical term, seasonal allergic rhinitis. Some people also develop asthma symptoms from ragweed, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath

How can you avoid ragweed pollen?

  • Make sure to wash your hands often. As we’ve mentioned in other tree pollen posts, pollen can stick to your hands when you touch something outside. Same goes for your pet, pollen can easily stick to their fur. So to minimize reactions, make sure to wash your hands and face!
  • Don’t spend a lot of time outdoors when pollen (ragweed) counts are high! Here’s a great resource to check the pollen forecast:
  • If you spend the day outside, be sure to take your “outdoor” clothes off when you get home as they may be covered in pollen.
  • Make sure to change your air conditioning filters often and use HEPA filters when possible as they remove 99% of all pollen as well as other allergens.
  • Dry your clothes in a dryer when possible as opposed to hanging them out to dry.

How do you know it’s time to see an allergist?

If your eyes are red and puffy, your nose won’t stop running, and your throat itches, you may have severe allergies. To us, these symptoms indicate that it’s time to see an allergist. We believe that there is no reason one should suffer from seasonal allergies, especially since there are remedies that we can provide you with to help you through allergy season. We can suggest over the counter drugs, which are a temporary solution, or we can discuss something more long-term, like allergy shots.

If you are interested in finding out more about seasonal allergy treatment, please give us a call or schedule an appointment to speak with one of our doctors today. 212-729-1283 or