With August nearly halfway over, allergy sufferers' attention often turns to one particular allergen – ragweed pollen. Generally starting in mid-August (slightly later throughout the South), ragweed causes allergic flare ups for millions of Americans every year, and with extremely hot and dry conditions gripping much of the country, this year could prove to be particularly challenging.
_Ragweed is a generic term that actually covers over three dozen different species of plants. Here in the U.S., the most prevalent form of ragweed is A. artemisiifolia. Ragweed is fairly potent when compared to other types of pollen, and can be a problem for allergy sufferers even in areas where ragweed plants are not prolific. The pollen of ragweed is so light that in some instances, it can travel hundreds of miles before finally settling out of the air. Because there is a severe drought gripping nearly 3/4 of the country (and ragweed is well suited for warm, arid conditions), this year's ragweed season is likely to be a rough one!
_There are several things you can do to reduce the impact of ragweed pollen during this time of year, but there are two general paths you can take – avoidance or treatment of symptoms. In terms of treating symptoms, there are a variety of allergy medications available. When taken prior to actually seeing symptoms, many can actually prevent the sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and other conditions that typify an allergic reaction. For some there can be issues with side effects or adverse reactions with other medications that person may be taking, and for other people, the expense of constantly taking allergy medication for several continuous weeks through ragweed season can just be too much expense.
_On the hand, there is avoidance. Avoidance can and is more difficult than simply taking a pill. However, the benefits of it can mean less cost to your bottom line, no worry of adverse reactions, and less dependence on pills or potentially addictive nasal sprays. In terms of avoidance there are a few basic tips to keep in mind.
- Keep Your Windows Closed – Whether at home or in your car, keeping your windows closed is a basic step to keep pollen out. If you want to keep your the windows open, try using a home window filter. These trap much of the pollen, ragweed and otherwise, but still allow some air to pass through and circulate throughout your home.
- Watch the Pollen Count – This information is readily available through your local news outlet or a variety of online sources. Knowing when pollen counts are particularly high can help you schedule certain outdoor tasks to reduce exposure.
- Rinse Your Sinuses – Many people who suffer from allergies already employ this method to flush allergens and soothe sore or inflamed sinuses. When used properly a simple, inexpensive device like a neti pot can make a big difference in how you feel and how well you can breathe through your nose.
_Other methods to help avoid pollen including wearing a pollen mask when outdoors or using an air purifier indoors to remove allergens from the air in your home.
Whether you go with avoidance, medications or a combination of the two, both can bring relief and help to minimize the misery that ragweed season can bring.
For more information on ragweed pollen. Happy Breathing!
Author: Kevin Gilmore aka KevvyG