Fall is Just as Bad as Spring

By Heather Legg

The days are cooling off, the humidity is dropping, the weather is beautiful. However, for those with allergies, they would probably trade in these days for worse weather and no allergies. The ragweed is getting ready to bloom, as well as other allergy inducing plants and weeds.

In the spring it is the flowers and trees that torment us with pollen, in the fall it is the weeds. Apparently one ragweed plant can produce 1 billion grains of pollen! Ragweed usually grows in rural areas and is most common in the Eastern states and the Midwest; seventeen different kinds of ragweed grow in North American.  It doesn’t usually grow in established areas, but where there is overgrowth, like roadsides, fields and vacant lots, it is abundant. Clearly, it is hard to avoid.

These beautiful windy days are just right for spreading ragweed pollen, which can travel so far that it has been found 400 miles out to sea! The most common time for pollen release is shortly after dawn. If ragweed is trouble for you, it is important to stay inside during the peak times and heavy days. This information can usually be found on weather channels and sites.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, of all Americans who are allergic to pollen producing plants, 75% are allergic to ragweed. These symptoms are well known, and include: eye irritation, runny nose, stuffy nose, puffy eyes, sneezing, and inflamed, itchy nose and throat. Other effects include headaches, ear infections, asthma and impaired sleep, all due to the primary effects.

The secondary effects are harder to identify for some as pollen symptoms. However, an ear infection can form due to the constant congestion and extra fluid in the head due to allergies. Same with headaches, because of the sinus pressure from the allergy, a headache can come on. Though these symptoms need to be treated for relief, the allergy needs to be treated as well and can be identified with a skin test. Antihistamines and decongestants are important to take to prevent the secondary effects.

If medication does not help and the symptoms continue year after year, consider immunotherapy (allergy shots). Many people find great relief after this treatment. Others turn to acupuncture, which has high success rates as well.

Suffering through any type of allergy is difficult, and can be life impairing. When you know allergies are on the way, it is smart to get on the defense and be ready to treat. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. The weather is much too nice right now to not be able to enjoy it!

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