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Ragweed Woes: How to Win Against One of Pollen’s Worst Offenders

 

Say “ragweed” in a crowded room and you’re sure to hear some groans. Why? Because ragweed is the most common weed pollen allergy, affecting about 15% of Americans.

If you have a ragweed pollen allergy, you may already have seasonal allergic rhinitis (“hay fever”) symptoms. Ragweed pollen season shows up in August and peaks in mid-September in most parts of the United States, especially in Eastern and Midwestern states.

Hay fever is also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis. Symptoms include:

  • Itching in the nose and eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose (congestion)
  • Runny nose
  • Mucus (phlegm) in the throat (postnasal drip)

Ragweed pollen can be hard to escape from. One reason why ragweed pollen creates so many issues for people with asthma and allergies is because one plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. That’s a lot of pollen!

Ragweed pollen also travels far. Even if you don’t live in a rural area where ragweed is likely to grow, you can still be affected by it. Ragweed pollen has been found as far as 400 miles out to sea and 2 miles up in the air.

Asthma attacks and hospitalizations increase in September, especially during the third week – Asthma Peak Week. Ragweed pollen plays a part in this spike, as well as students returning to schools and the increased spread of respiratory illness.


Ragweed pollen has a major impact on people with pollen allergies and allergic asthma. While it’s hard to avoid completely, there are ways you can win against this force of nature.

  • Talk with a board-certified allergist. They can confirm your allergy and help you come up with a treatment plan to manage your symptoms.
  • Stick with your treatment plan. Make sure you don’t miss any doses of your medicines. In fact, start treatment before ragweed season begins.
  • Watch pollen counts. In the late summer, track the pollen in your area so you can know when ragweed starts to rise. You can get your area’s pollen counts from the National Allergy Bureau.
  • Schedule your time outside in the afternoons or evenings. Ragweed pollen amounts peak in the mornings.
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat or other hair covering when outdoors.
  • Shower every night before bed to keep pollen from getting in your bedding.
  • Dry laundry in a clothes dryer or on an indoor rack, not on an outdoor line.
  • Wipe pets off with a towel before they enter your home.
  • Take off your shoes before going into your house.
  • If possible, use central air conditioning with a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® HVAC filter.

Medical Review August 2017. September 2021.

Reference
1. Salo, P.M., S.J. Arbes, Jr., R. Jaramillo, A. Calatroni, C.H. Weir, M.L. Sever, J.A. Hoppin, K.M. Rose, A.H. Liu, P.J. Gergen, H.E. Mitchell, and D.C. Zeldin. 2014. Prevalence of allergic sensitization in the United States: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2006. J. Allergy Clin. Immun. 134(2):350–359.

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