Ragweed is a flowering plant and the most prevalent cause of hay fever in the U.S. About 10 to 30 percent of Americans are allergic to ragweed.
Ragweed is more common in the East and Midwest, mostly in rural areas. From August to November, ragweed flowers mature and release pollen in the air. Ragweed is a prolific pollinator, with a single plant releasing up to a billion grains of pollen per season. The pollens are light and can travel for miles on the wind. (That’s why ragweed allergies affect people in most every part of the country.)
Ragweed Allergy Symptoms
- Eye irritation
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Puffy eyes
- Inflamed and itchy nose and throat
In cases where a person has severe allergies, symptoms may include asthma attacks, chronic sinusitis, headaches, or sleep problems.
Managing Ragweed Allergy
One way to manage ragweed is simply avoiding or limiting contact with ragweed. For people who have pollen allergies, experts suggest staying indoors as much as possible when the pollen count is high. However, complete pollen avoidance can be difficult as pollen can easily spread during pollination time, entering homes through doors and windows.
Medications can help minimize symptoms through the season. If your ragweed allergies are significantly cutting into your quality of life, see a physician about immunotherapy—the only treatment shown to be capable of addressing the underlying allergy itself. Immunotherapy can be prescribed as allergy shots (administered in a physician’s office) or as under-the-tongue allergy drops that can be taken at home.