Sniffling and sneezing? The most likely culprit is hay fever. Most cases of hay fever (allergic rhinitis) are caused by allergies to ragweed pollen. This is because it is such a prolific pollen maker. A single ragweed plant can commonly release as many as one billion grains of pollen over the course of a single ragweed season (usually late summer). No wonder 75 percent of all allergic rhinitis cases are caused by ragweed pollen! Even if there’s not a lot of ragweed in your area, you are likely still affected by it because its pollens can be carried for hundreds of miles on the wind.
The flowering ragweed plant is primarily found in rural areas of the eastern and midwest states and has approximately 17 different species in the United States alone. It is usually a few inches to a foot in height.
Hay fever caused by ragweed can be bothersome but it can also morph into more serious conditions such as sinusitis, chronic cough, allergic conjunctivitis, or asthma. Typical risk factors for hay fever are family history, other allergies, gender, age, exposure to second hand smoke, and geographical area (exposure to pollens).
The Family Allergy Clinic can help with hay fever and other allergy symptoms using sublingual immunotherapy drops (a safer more convenient alternative to allergy shots).