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Ragweed Allergies: Be Prepared!

By: Philip N. Rancitelli, M.D., F.A.A.A.A.I. Ragweed season is here! The end of summer is a beautiful time of the year in Ohio, but it often presents major challenges for allergy sufferers. Weed pollen and mold spores become more prevalent in the air and can cause significant allergy symptoms. Ragweed gets the most notoriety and […]

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By: Philip N. Rancitelli, M.D., F.A.A.A.A.I.
Ragweed season is here!

The end of summer is a beautiful time of the year in Ohio, but it often presents major challenges for allergy sufferers. Weed pollen and mold spores become more prevalent in the air and can cause significant allergy symptoms. Ragweed gets the most notoriety and for good reason. Ragweed pollen is one of the most potent allergens and it is one of the major causes of “hay fever” in the United States.

Ragweed belongs to the plant genus Ambrosia. Many species exist, but Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed) is the most widespread in North America. Ragweed is a flowering plant that typically pollinates from mid-August through the first frost in the Midwest. Ragweed plants reproduce by wind-pollination, and pollen counts in the air are highest on dry/windy days (lowest after rain). Ragweed pollen can remain airborne for many days and can travel vast distances, even hundreds of miles out to sea.

Pollen can be trapped in the nasal passages, eyes, and lungs resulting in allergy symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, red/itchy/watery eyes, coughing and wheezing. Many hay fever sufferers also experience itching in the mouth with ingestion of a variety of foods (mostly fresh fruits). This phenomenon is known as “oral allergy syndrome” and is due to cross-reactivity between proteins in plants and foods. Ragweed sufferers might experience symptoms with bananas, cantaloupe and melons to name a few.

Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod and ragweed are different types of plants. They often get confused for each other because they bloom at the same time of year and their flowers are yellow. Goldenrod is pollinated primarily by insects (not the wind), and thus doesn’t contribute significantly to hay fever.

An Allergist/Immunologist certified by The American Board of Allergy and Immunology is the most qualified specialist to diagnose and treat ragweed allergy. The diagnosis is confirmed with a simple skin test that is relatively painless. Treatment options are plentiful and tailored for specific symptoms. Antihistamines (oral, nasal, and ocular), nasal steroids, asthma inhalers, and other anti-inflammatory medications can effectively alleviate symptoms for most sufferers. Allergen immunotherapy (a.k.a. allergy shots) is often prescribed when medications are ineffective, are too expensive, or cause significant side effects.

Working with an Allergist/Immunologist at Midwest Allergy you can rest assured that you will receive the most comprehensive and effective care available for ragweed allergy (and other allergic/immunologic disorders).

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