Allergies to ragweed pollen are very common here in Phoenix area, with about 20 percent of people developing hay fever symptoms when this weed is flowering. The most significant problems happen in late summer and early fall. Learning more about ragweed, and seeking help our allergy team will provide relief from the worst of the symptoms.
Ragweed grows in all U.S. states but Alaska. It commonly pops up in vacant lots and along roadsides. Ragweed isn’t normally found in residential yards, but a person with hay fever should pull up weeds from the lawn before they flower if this plant does start growing there.
Unfortunately, the wind can carry this pollen a long distance because the substance is so light as compared with many other kinds of plant pollen. People can avoid some exposure to ragweed by being alert to where it grows and avoiding walking or biking by those areas if possible. Ragweed pollen counts typically are highest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
If your home is located near land with ragweed growing on it, windows could be kept closed on breezy days. Everyone should take their shoes off when they first come inside, as they can easily bring ragweed and other pollen in on their shoes. If you have spent much time outdoors on a day when ragweed pollen is probably prevalent, showering before bed is a good idea.
Ragweed is part of the Aster family. Although someone who is allergic to ragweed may also be allergic to asters, this person may never have symptoms because aster pollen is generally not distributed by wind, but rather by bees and other insects.
The timing for ragweed pollination depends on the region. In colder parts of the country, the plant first appears in August. Pollination may cause problems later that month and in September. In warmer realms, ragweed may start growing as early as July. Ragweed pollen can still linger into November.
Allergy Tests and Treatment
Testing should be done to confirm that the person actually is allergic to ragweed, after which time allergy shots might be advisable. This is a time-consuming process that can take more than a year for some patients, but it allows the body to gradually lose its sensitivity to a particular allergen. The body becomes tolerant of the substance and no longer produces reactive symptoms.
It can be difficult to avoid all exposure to ragweed pollen because of the unique characteristics of this allergen. Nevertheless, a person who is allergic to the substance can take steps to prevent symptoms by staying away from the plants as much as possible once they start flowering. Seeking help from a Board Certified Allergist is advisable if symptoms are particularly bothersome, or dangerous.