Ragweed Allergy: Symptoms and Treatment

Ragweeds grow throughout the United States and are very common in the Eastern and the Midwest states. One plant can produce a million pollen grains. These pollen grains fill the air and can travel for miles with the wind. The seeds of the ragweed plant can stay in the soil for months, as they await the right season to grow out into a plant. The pollen count of this weed increases severely in the months of August, September and October.

People, who are sensitive to these pollen grains, suffer from ‘ragweed allergy’, when they inhale these pollen grains. If the rainfall in spring is more than usual, then the situation may worsen, as the count of ragweed pollens, also increases more than normal. Almost 75 percent of people, who are allergic to plant pollens, are allergic to ragweed pollens. The basic work of the immune system in the human body, is to fight viruses and bacteria, that might enter the human body in the form of allergens. So, it can be easily deduced that people allergic to ragweed, are not immune to its allergens. Studies by various medical and research institutes have revealed that approximately 10 percent of the entire U.S. population are sensitive to ragweed.

Symptoms

The first signs of a ragweed allergy are a runny and stuffed nose. Fever and headaches soon follow. The fever caused by ragweed is known as hay fever. The patient also suffers from sneezing and extreme irritation in his eyes, nose and throat. Many people also experience tightness in the chest that causes severe coughing, wheezing and difficulty in breathing. For people with asthma, the allergy can result in asthma attacks. Extremely sensitive people also suffer from chronic sinusitis. People who are allergic to ragweed, are also prone to oral allergy syndromes (OAS), which cause the person suffering from ragweed allergy, to be allergic to certain types of food too.

Treatment

If you know that you are allergic to ragweed pollens, it is better that you start medical treatment before the season starts. Though you cannot escape from its pollen grains, it will be beneficial if you move to those parts of the country, where the count of ragweed pollen is low. The basic idea is to avoid coming in contact with ragweed pollen grains, as much as possible. If you are show any hay fever symptoms, then take some antihistamines (Allegra, Zyrtec, Clartin, etc.), but on a doctor’s prescription only. Various inflammatory nose sprays and drops are available, that can help in treating the nose, eyes and throat irritations, caused by this allergy, but these sprays have their own side effects.

If the medication does not help you, then you can take ‘allergy shots’. The process, known as immunotherapy, increases your body’s resistance against the allergens. The pollen grains which you are allergic to, need to be identified and you are given the appropriate allergy shots. If the process of identification and treatment goes well, then you will notice significant improvements in the symptoms. Immunotherapy is however, the last resort that a person suffering from ragweed allergy should take. Before doing so, it is necessary that you consult a medical practitioner, who is completely aware of your medical history.

One very important aspect in the treatment of ragweed allergy, is its diagnosis. Just because you exhibit the symptoms, doesn’t mean that you are suffering from it. Generally the person’s past medical history is reviewed by the medical practitioner and a skin test is carried out to complete the verification. It is one of the most serious allergies that a person can suffer from, but not much can be done to actually treat it. One can only take preventive measures which can reduce the severity of the symptoms.




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