Ragweed Pollen Allergy Season Has Arrived!
If, like me, you have a ragweed pollen allergy, then you are probably noticing an increase in your nasal and eye allergy symptoms lately. Symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion can really get in the way of your usual quality of life this time of year. At least that's my experience.
I am allergic to all kinds of pollen -- tree pollen in the spring, grass pollen in the summer and weed pollen in late summer and fall. But I felt pretty good all summer this year, with minimal symptoms. However, beginning about the third week in August, I started noticing that my eyes were irritated day and night and I was sneezing and blowing my nose much more often. I have to admit, that with the decline in my allergy symptoms over the summer months, I'd stopped taking my daily allergy medicine quite as consistently. Big mistake!
If you have seasonal allergies, it's important to take your medicine every day throughout the allergy seasons that affect you. Ideally, you would start that daily medicine about two weeks before the typical start of the allergy season, so that it has time to reach full effectiveness. I didn't do that, and I paid for it. How about you?
Facts About Ragweed Allergy
Experts estimate that some 36 million Americans— about 10 to 20 percent of the population—suffer from ragweed pollen allergy. Ragweed pollen begins to circulate late in the summer (mid-August), reaching its peak during the fall, and continuing until the first frost kills off the ragweed plants in late fall.
Ragweed grows almost everywhere in the U.S., but is most common in rural parts of the Eastern and Midwestern states. Ragweed tends to grow where other plants don't and the soil is bare, such as vacant lots and along roadways and river banks.
Ragweed plants survive only one season, but during that time they can put out up to 1 billion grains of pollen per plant. This pollen is extremely light and can be carried for many miles by wind currents. Ragweed seeds can also often survive for years in the soil, waiting to grow until conditions are right.
What Can You Do to Survive Ragweed Season?
So, taking your allergy medicine, whether it's a pill, a nasal spray, eye drops, or whatever, is important. But what else can you do?
Avoidance is always the first line of defense against allergens like pollen. Here are a few other strategies that can always help:
1. Keep pollen out of your house.
Ragweed pollen is light and can cling to everything that's been outdoors, whether it's you, your clothing and shoes, your hair, your pet or even your laundry that was hanging outdoors to dry.
So, change your clothes and shower after being outside when pollen counts are high. Same goes for your pets. If you can't bathe them every time, at least wipe them down or brush them off before they come indoors.
Also, keep doors and windows closed, both in your car and your home. Use air conditioning to keep your environment cool enough, as needed.
Use a clothes dryer, rather than hanging clothes outdoors to dry.
2. If you must be outdoors, take precautions.
Pollen counts are highest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., so try to schedule outdoor activities before or after those hours. Pollen counts are also highest on hot, windy days, so again avoid being outdoors during those times. To check the pollen counts in your area, visit Pollen.com.
To protect your eyes from ragweed pollen when outdoors, wear sunglasses with large, wrap-around lenses. They even make sunglasses large enough to fit over prescription lenses, if needed.
3. Reduce your stress and anxiety.
Some research suggests that stress can lower immune levels, while other studies suggest that allergy symptoms can contribute to your stress. Either way, it just makes sense to manage your stress the best you can. You'll feel healthier overall.
Common stress relievers include:
- Yoga and other forms of exercise
- Relaxing activities such as reading, listening to music, bathing, etc.
Figure out what helps you manage your stress and use it!
Ragweed pollen season can be challenging to deal with, and it lasts for a long time. In fact, some experts predict that this year's ragweed season may be up to four weeks longer than usual, which is certainly not great news.
But there are things you can do to survive it and keep living your life as actively and happily as ever. So take action today and work with your physician as needed to keep your allergy symptoms under control.