Ragweed season, which lasts from about mid-August to October in many parts of the United States, can bring misery to the estimated 36 million Americans with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
Symptoms such as sneezing, runny noses, swollen, itchy watery eyes are so severe that they disrupt a person's ability to function normally at work or school, says the American Academy of Allergy,Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
The academy notes that almost 80 percent of people with seasonal allergies suffer sleep problems, resulting in daytime fatigue and poor concentration. Each year, ragweed-related allergies cause more than 3.8 million lost days of work and school.
The AAAAI offers some tips on how to reduce exposure to ragweed:
- Avoid areas where ragweed plants thrive, such as ditches, roadsides, riverbanks, vacant lots, and the edges of wooded areas.
- Keep windows closed during ragweed season in order to prevent pollen from getting into your home. Use air conditioning, which cools, cleans and dries the air.
- Keep your car windows closed.
- Limit the amount of time you spend outdoors when pollen counts are high.
- After you spend time outside, take a shower to wash pollen from your skin and hair.
- Minimize your exposure to other allergens during ragweed season. Hay fever symptoms are often the result of cumulative exposure to multiple allergens.
- Start taking allergy medications 10 to 14 days before peak ragweed season in your area.
- Get up-to-date pollen information from the National allergy Bureau (www.aaaai.org/nab).
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about allergy control.