Ragweed is one of the most common seasonal allergies in the United States. Ragweed is a soft-stemmed weed that can grow from a few centimeters to as large as 3.5 feet tall.
In North America alone, you can find 17 species of ragweed. Common ragweed (A. artemisiifolia) and giant ragweed (A. trifida) specifically are the biggest contributors to allergies, with these widespread plants producing up to one billion grains of pollen per plant, per season. That much pollen in the air can be tough to avoid, but fortunately, there are ways to relieve your ragweed allergies with Wyndly.
Set up an allergy consultation with Wyndly to get a personalized allergy plan, or keep reading to learn more about ragweed allergies.
Everyone may have slightly different reactions if they have a ragweed allergy, but there are some common symptoms that you can watch out for. Keep in mind that your ragweed allergies will normally be seasonal.
Here are some of the symptoms you can likely expect:
- Runny nose
- Scratchy throat
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Allergic rash
- Aggravated symptoms if you have asthma
Your allergy symptoms may worsen depending on the pollen count in the air and the weather. If you’re experiencing these symptoms during times of high ragweed pollen, it’s likely that you can attribute them to ragweed allergies. Still, it’s a good idea to get tested for specific allergies if you’re unsure. We’ll touch on testing and diagnosis further down.
Where Is Ragweed Found?
Ragweed can be found across the United States, parts of Canada and parts of Central and South America. In short, it’s hard to avoid ragweed if you’re living in the United States. It particularly thrives in the East and Midwest. Ragweed can commonly be seen in fields, yards, roadsides and construction sites. However, its pollen is not restricted to these areas.
Ragweed pollen is incredibly light and can travel many miles. Thus, it’s common to have ragweed allergies whether you live in the country or city.
When Is Ragweed Pollen Allergy Season?
Ragweed pollen allergy season typically begins in later summer and goes into early winter. Thus, many people will experience intense reactions in early fall, when ragweed pollen is peaking. Ragweed pollen has also been known to continue into winter if the weather conditions are mild enough.
When it’s ragweed pollen allergy season, you’ll want to take measures to reduce your exposure.
Foods to Avoid
It’s important to keep in mind that certain foods have proteins that are similar to the proteins in ragweed pollen. Those with ragweed allergies or sensitivities could trigger a reaction by consuming these foods.
Here are the foods you should watch out for:
- Sunflower seeds
Eating these foods might cause your mouth to itch or tingle. If this happens, you should contact your doctor or allergist. In the rare case of a more severe allergic reaction, make sure to seek emergency medical attention.
Testing and Diagnosis
There are many airborne allergens that could be causing you to have allergic reactions. It’s always a good idea to get allergy testing so you can diagnose your specific triggers and find out if ragweed is your primary issue. When you pinpoint your allergens, it can be easier for you to avoid them and treat them. Typically, the easiest method to find out what you’re allergic to is with an at-home blood allergy test.
Here’s how it works:
Old Fashioned Method: Skin Prick Test at Your Doctor’s Office
Skin prick testing for allergies is painful, time-consuming and inconvenient. This method forces you to go into your doctor’s office and sit in the waiting room only to leave with irritated skin. Save time and get painless allergy testing with a simple finger-prick test instead.
Modern and Efficient Method Taken At Home:
- Get Wyndly’s at-home allergy test. We ship our CLIA-certified test straight to your door.
- Take the allergy test and return it via mail. You take an easy finger-prick test and return your sample in the provided envelope.
- Receive your personal allergy profile. Our doctors interpret your allergy profile for you and create a personalized treatment plan.
The great thing about an allergy test is that it can reveal every allergen that you should be aware of. It can eliminate any uncertainty, and you can start treating your allergy symptoms properly.
Treatment and Remedies
There are a wide variety of ways to treat a ragweed allergy. Following are some steps you can take to relieve your ragweed allergy symptoms.
One of the best things you can do is make sure your exposure to ragweed is at a minimum during ragweed pollen allergy season. This can be easier said than done due to the high concentration of ragweed pollen. Still, there are some measures you can take to ensure your exposure to pollen is limited, including:
- Check the Pollen Count: Use a website or app to check pollen levels in your area. If pollen levels are high, you can try to stay indoors as much as possible.
- Avoid Peak Hours: Ragweed pollen usually peaks in the early morning and in the late afternoon. If you can avoid being outside during these times, you won’t get exposed to as much pollen.
- Keep Your Home Clean: When you go outside, you’re inevitably going to bring in some ragweed pollen with you. It’s essential to keep your home clean during peak ragweed season. Use a vacuum weekly with a HEPA filter to get rid of as much pollen as possible. It’s also a good idea to do laundry frequently and shower if you’ve been outside for a long time that day. Also make sure you’re not drying your clothes outside, as they can collect pollen.
- Buy a Filter: A HEPA filter or a dehumidifier can help reduce allergens in your home.
- Close Your Windows: As tempting as it can be to open your windows on a nice day, if the pollen count is high. you could be letting in a lot of allergens. Keep your windows closed when possible.
- Avoid the Aforementioned Foods: Don’t forget to avoid consuming the foods we listed earlier.
Limiting exposure can work to a point, but sometimes other treatments and remedies are necessary. Let’s look at those.
Most people use some form of medication to manage their allergies throughout allergy seasons. Here are some of the typical medications you might take:
- Over-the-counter: Most of your allergy medication options will be over the counter. Here’s what you might want to look at for ragweed allergies:
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines inhibit the effects of histamine in your body, helping to relieve allergy symptoms.
- Nasal sprays: Nasal sprays work to reduce swelling and mucus in your nasal passage. This is a good treatment for those who experience the symptoms of runny nose and congestion. Decongestants also work for this.
- Prescription: Prescription medicines should only be used if over-the-counter medications are ineffective and if your allergist thinks it’s the right path to take.
Finally, if lifestyle modifications and medications aren’t working, sublingual immunotherapy allergy drop may be for you.
Sublingual Immunotherapy Allergy Drops
Sublingual immunotherapy allergy drop is a form of allergy immunotherapy. Allergy immunotherapy involves slowly exposing your body to your allergy triggers in measured doses. Allergy drop immunotherapy uses small liquid drops placed under-the-tongue (sublingually). Your allergy drops are specifically made to train your immune system to beat your allergens without triggering any allergy symptoms. They are as effective as allergy shots and are associated with fewer side effects.
Sublingual allergy drop immunotherapy is used across the United States. Wyndly is making allergy drops available all around the United States.
Get Long-Term Relief With Wyndly
If you truly want to take the guesswork out of allergy treatment, Wyndly can help. If you’re tired of just getting temporary relief, taking medications every day and trying to avoid allergens for entire seasons, Wyndly is your solution.
With Wyndly, you get a personalized treatment plan that is meant to bring you long-term relief from your allergies. Using at-home sublingual immunotherapy, our physicians can help train your immune system to ignore allergy triggers and help you achieve relief for life. Wyndly doctors are ready to make you a personalized treatment plan to give you an allergy-free life.
Ragweed Allergy FAQs
Here are some more frequently asked questions about ragweed.
Is ragweed really in all 50 states?
Technically, Alaska is still free from ragweed, likely due to the harsh weather. With that being said, there is always the possibility of Alaska having ragweed in the future. Also, foods with ragweed proteins should still be avoided if you live in Alaska and are allergic to ragweed.
Can a ragweed allergy be deadly?
This is highly unlikely. Pollen allergies typically just trigger an immune response and very rarely lead to death or serious illness.
Will my mask for COVID-19 protect me from ragweed pollen?
It depends on the type of mask you use. Any facial covering will help to an extent, but an N95 mask will be the most effective at filtering out allergens. Cloth masks should be washed regularly, as they can easily collect ragweed pollen just like your clothes — only worse because it’s right next to your mouth, eyes and nose.
Can I get rid of ragweed from my yard?
If you have ragweed in your yard, you can make efforts to remove it if you wish. Cutting the weeds will help, but they’re quite resilient and often grow back. Some natural herbicides may work as well. Keep in mind, though, that ragweed is so widespread that cutting down your local population likely won’t be enough to drastically reduce symptoms. Pollen can travel hundreds of miles, so it’s often best to seek other treatment methods instead.