Praying for Rain to End Your Ragweed Allergies
Between ten and twenty percent of Americans suffer from ragweed allergies. That number is estimated at more than thirty-six million Americans total. Ragweed season begins around mid-August and ends when frost kills the plants in late fall. Ragweed allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe, causing most of those suffering from them to pray for rain-or frost-to end their misery.
Ragweed symptoms are more commonly known as hay fever, although there is no hay or fever involved. Allergists refer to it as allergic rhinitis. These symptoms would be itchiness, watery eyes, sneezing, and runny nose. These symptoms often produce secondary symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, which causes other problems such as loss of concentration, fatigue, and performance problems at work or school. In fact, the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology says that Americans miss more than 3.8 million days of work and school because of the amount of ragweed in the air.
A single ragweed plant can release one billion grains of pollen into the air in one season. Due to their lightweight nature, these pollen grains can travel up to four hundred miles. Ragweed can also grow anywhere. It can be found along roadsides, in ditches, in vacant lots, and along riverbanks and the edges of woods. There are very few places in the United States that are free of ragweed. Unfortunately for ragweed sufferers, ragweed is a hardy plant and is difficult to contain.
Hot, dry, windy days are great for pollen distribution and very hard on ragweed allergies. These are the hardest days for those with a ragweed allergy. Rain helps to alleviate the symptoms because the pollens are weighed down with moisture, keeping them from their normal high distribution. While it is wonderful to actually have a day off now and then from the symptoms, real relief comes in the form of frost. Once frost kills the ragweed plant, ragweed sufferers are free to enjoy life again until the following mid-August.
Alleviating Ragweed Symptoms
Many allergists recommend that people begin taking their allergy medications ten to fourteen days prior to the onset of their area's ragweed season. The best way to avoid allergic reactions is to avoid the pollen-whether it is staying indoors in air conditioning or, for people with severe reactions, actually moving to get some relief. For most people, over-the-counter medications will help. Antihistamine medications work to stop the histamines from going on the attack when they see the foreign substance (i.e. pollen) in the body. Antihistamines can make people drowsy, so be cautious. There are also prescription medications that help deal with allergy symptoms. If prescription medications are unable to help, an allergy shot is the likeliest next step. There are also some natural treatments that work well to provide relief.
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