Ragweed season is in full swing, and about to hit its peak in the desert.  Many allergy sufferers deal with ragweed allergy, and the ragweed pollen season in Arizona is very long.  Ragweed is extremely allergenic, releasing up to a billion grains of pollen per season!

What is ragweed?

Ragweeds are flowering plants in the Ambrosia genus. They are found in tropical and subtropical regions.  There are over 50 types of ragweed, including short, false, western, common and great ragweed. The most species of ragweed are found in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.  Ragweed pollen is very allergenic, and each ragweed plant can release up to a billion grains of pollen per season. Ragweed pollen is known for causing persistent symptoms related to allergic rhinitis, such as sneezing, nasal congestion, post nasal drainage, itchy and water eyes.  Almost half of people with allergies in the United States have ragweed allergy.

Do I have ragweed allergy?

If you feel your allergy symptoms are worse in the fall and especially when outdoors, you probably have ragweed allergy.  If you’re not sure, your allergist can find out for you by skin testing or a simple blood test.   Some ragweed allergy sufferers will have problems with eating certain fruits, such as banana, avocado, or melons due to itchy mouth.  This is called oral allergy syndrome and is related to ragweed allergy!

What can I do to help my ragweed allergy?  Here are some tips:

  1. Exercise or spend time outdoors in the early morning hours (before 6am), before ragweed pollen elevates during the day
  2. Avoid spending time outside mid-day, when ragweed pollen peaks
  3. Even if the weather is nice, keep doors and windows closed to prevent pollen coming in your car or home
  4. Avoid being outdoors on pollution-advisory days; Increased CO2 or NO in the air (related to pollution) can actually increase pollen counts!
  5. Consistent use of daily allergy medication, such as a long-acting antihistamine (like Zyrtec or Allegra) plus a nasal steroid spray to decrease inflammation in your nose and sinuses.  These medicines work best when taken every day
  6. Immunotherapy (aka Allergy Shots or Drops) are also a way to build up your tolerance and desensitize you to the pollen you are allergic to.

No need to suffer through ragweed season! Ask your allergy provider for help if you are having problems with your allergies!