Is Ragweed Season Getting Worse?

If you are prone to hay fever, chances are that you are allergic to ragweed. Roughly 75 percent of people with allergic rhinitis react to ragweed pollen. If ragweed is your Kryptonite, expect the next few months to be rocky. Ragweed typically pollinates in fall.

Ragweed Season Getting Worse

(Pixabay / WikimediaImages)

If your ragweed allergies seem to increase over time, you might blame it on global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that in the past 20 years, ragweed season has extended in the central United States and Canada in 10 of the 11 locations measured. Though ragweed season typically runs from mid-September through late October, it has increased by up to three weeks in many Northern cities.

Laboratory studies show that ragweed grown in the presence of higher carbon dioxide levels (an effect of global warming) produces more pollen. In addition, studies in Europe have shown that due to global warming and the way it is expanding the presence of ragweed, the number of people with ragweed allergies could double by the year 2060.

Ragweed is a flowering plant from the aster family with 17 different species in the U.S. It is a prolific pollinator; one plant can release up to a billion pollen granules in its lifetime. Ragweed is most common in the East and Midwest, but it is found in most regions of the country. Even if you don’t have a lot of ragweed in your area, you will likely still feel its effects. Ragweed’s lightweight pollens can be wafted on the wind for hundreds of miles.

If you’re tired of feeling miserable every fall, medications can help take the edge off of ragweed-induced allergy symptoms. If medications aren’t cutting it, consider a long-term solution with allergy immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is the only treatment that has been shown to affect the underlying allergy—not just its symptoms. Immunotherapy is available through allergy shots or under-the-tongue allergy drops (known as sublingual immunotherapy).

Talk to your allergy doctor about the cost of allergy drops as compared to allergy shots. If you have allergies to both food and pollen, allergy drops have also been shown to be an effective treatment for food allergies.

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.