Dealing with ragweed: the culprit behind fall allergies

A seasonal allergy, commonly referred to as “hay fever” or allergic rhinitis, occurs during certain times of the year, usually fall or summer. Hay fever peaks during these times when plants release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants.

ragweed allergy

Studies show that 10 to 30 percent of Americans suffer from seasonal hay fever, and most of these cases are caused by ragweed, a plant belongs to genus Ambrosia. The maturing ragweed flowers release tiny grains of pollen into the air during fall. When the released pollen enters the human body, the immune system mistakenly treats the pollen as “invaders,” thereby releasing histamines to ward them off.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy throat
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Itchy eyes
  • Hives

Some individuals may also develop asthma symptoms, coughing, wheezing, and breathing issues.

  • Minimizing exposure to seasonal allergens
  • Airborne pollens are virtually impossible to avoid, but you can take some measures to minimize your contact with them:
  • Minimize outdoor times when ragweed pollen counts are high.
  • Wash your hands after you touch something outside.
  • Clean or replace furnace and air conditioner filters frequently.
  • Wear a dust mask while doing outdoor tasks such as gardening, cleaning the garage, etc.
  • Avoid wearing “outdoor clothes” while inside the house.

Treating ragweed allergy
Allergy medications like antihistamines, decongestants and oral corticosteroids can help lessen the symptoms of temporary, season allergies. If your symptoms are significantly detracting from your quality of life, however, or if they endure for more than a few months a year, talk to an allergist about the possibility of immunotherapy—the only treatment that can actually change the underlying allergy (not just its symptoms). Immunotherapy is available through shots or, more safely and conveniently, through oral drops (sublingual immunotherapy) that can be administered at home.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.