Ragweed Season Means Allergy Symptoms for Many
By Scott Gilbert, Penn State
It’s ragweed season, and that means allergy symptoms for many Americans.
Ragweed pollen, which makes its appearance across the country starting in mid-August, is a common trigger of seasonal allergic rhinitis (sometimes called hay fever), according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
People experiencing fall allergies for the first time might not realize they are having an allergic reaction, since symptoms often mirror the common cold.
“Many people mistake their seasonal symptoms for a cold instead of rhinitis, due to several allergy myths,” said allergist Dr. Stanley Fineman, president of the ACAAI. “Knowing the truth about allergies and how to prevent flare-ups can mean having a comfortable, symptom-free hay fever season.”
People who have cold-like symptoms (runny nose, nasal congestion) that continue for more than two weeks probably have allergies, according to the ACAAI. (Learn more about the difference between cold and allergy symptoms here.)
The ACAAI offers the following tips for people who experience fall allergies:
– Seek treatment. Hay fever can be treated with over-the-counter remedies or with prescription nasal sprays, medications or allergy shots (also called immunotherapy). New treatments are in development, including one specifically for asthma triggered by ragweed allergies.
– Start treatment early. Staying ahead of hay fever symptoms means taking medication before the dripping nose, itching, sneezing and wheezing commence. That means starting medication before symptoms start and continuing to take it until a few weeks after the first frost.
– Watch for oral allergy syndrome. This condition is common in people who have ragweed allergies. People with the syndrome have an allergic reaction to proteins that are similar to ragweed pollen and are found in certain fruits, vegetables and nuts — such as banana, cucumber, melon, zucchini and sunflower seeds. Symptoms include itching or tingling of the lips, mouth or throat. Sometimes the syndrome causes a stomachache.
Learn more about hay fever here, in our Health eNews Information Library.