What You Need to Know About Ragweed Pollen Allergy

Oct 01, 2022
What You Need to Know About Ragweed Pollen Allergy
Hay fever season is over. Isn’t it? So why are you still sneezing, wheezing, and coughing? If you have allergy symptoms in late summer to early autumn, you may be allergic to ragweed pollen. If you react to ragweed, here’s what you should know.

Ragweed pollen allergy is a common type of allergy among the 23 million women, men, and children in the United States who suffer from hay fever. Ragweed doesn’t release its potent pollen until late summer, with peaks in mid-September that can continue into October. In other words, just when you thought you were done with summer allergies, you start sniffling again.

If you’re suffering from allergy symptoms this fall, expert allergist Lakshmi Reddy, MD diagnoses your allergies and customizes treatment at the Allergy and Asthma Institute in Duluth, Georgia. If you’re allergic to ragweed pollen, here’s what you should know.

Ragweed is everywhere

Unfortunately, ragweed is a prolific weed that grows throughout the US, but it’s especially common in Eastern and midwestern states. You may be relieved to learn that each ragweed plant only lives for one season. However, during their brief life, each ragweed can release up to one billion grains of pollen.

Those billions upon billions of pollen grains can literally get up your nose, causing a full range of uncomfortable symptoms. And, of course, the spread of pollen guarantees that next year there’ll be a new crop of ragweed to wreak havoc on your system.

Ragweed allergies are rarely solo

If you're allergic to pollen in general, you have a 75% chance of being allergic to ragweed, too. And if you have a ragweed allergy, you might also have uncomfortable symptoms when you eat:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Cucumber
  • Honeydew
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini 
  • Banana
  • White potato
  • Sunflower seeds

The reason these foods affect you, too, is that your immune system mistakes them for ragweed pollen and reacts by launching an immune response, complete with inflammation. You may develop an itchy mouth, tongue, or face.

Ragweed symptoms are similar to hay fever

You may think that hay fever season’s just gone on longer than usual when your symptoms persist into the fall. But, instead, you may be reacting to ragweed pollen. Symptoms of ragweed allergy are identical to other pollen allergies and include:

  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Puffy eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Postnasal drip
  • Headaches
  • Hives
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

As with hay fever symptoms, ragweed allergy symptoms can trigger or worsen asthma.

The first step is a diagnosis

Before you treat allergy symptoms, you need to know what causes them. If you’re allergic to ragweed, you may have other allergies, too.

During your allergy test, Dr. Reddy and her expert team conduct something called a skin prick allergy test. They place small drops of various allergens on your arms and then gently prick your skin. You wait in our office to see if you develop small bumps in the next 15 minutes or so. You’re allergic to any substance that causes a bump.

The next step is customized treatment

Once our experts know what’s causing your symptoms, they customize a treatment plan for you. Depending on the severity of your ragweed pollen and other allergies, they may recommend lifestyle changes that limit your exposure to ragweed, such as:

  • Filtering the air in your home
  • Wearing protective clothing outdoors
  • Frequently washing your clothes, bedding, and hair
  • Vacuuming and cleaning frequently

You may also benefit from over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants. If your allergies are more severe, Dr. Reddy and her team may recommend allergy shots. Allergy shots can gradually train your body to ignore allergens so you don’t have a full-blown immune response and symptoms.

Find out if your sneezing and sniffling is caused by ragweed by booking an allergy test and treatment today. Phone our helpful team at 678-615-7878, or book an appointment online.