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Self-Care

3.8 Million Days of Work/School Missed During Ragweed Season

The end of summer brings the beginning of ragweed season where nearly 36 million Americans will suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, or "hay fever," according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Allergy sufferers will get some relief this time of the year because of the diminishing tree and grass pollen but ragweed season will bring on symptoms such as sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. About 3.8 million days of work and school are missed to ragweed allergies.

"[Ragweed] produces one billion grains per average season and, due to their lightweight texture, the grains can travel up to 400 miles," said Dr. Fuad M. Baroody, chair of the AAAAI Rhinitis Committee. "Ragweed is prevalent throughout the Northeast, South and Midwest from mid-August to October, making it a significant cause of fall allergies."

Symptoms of "hay fever" include sneezing, runny noses and swollen, itchy, watery eyes. Nearly 80 percent of allergy suffers will experience sleep problems, leading to fatigue, loss of concentration and poor performance at work at school.

How To Avoid Ragweed Exposure

  • Avoid areas where ragweed plants thrive, including ditches, vacant lots, roadsides, riverbanks and the edges of wooded areas.
  • Keep windows closed during ragweed season to prevent pollen from drifting into your home – air conditioning will cool, clean and dry the air.
  • Keep your car windows closed when traveling.
  • Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high.
  • Take a shower after spending time outside since pollen can collect on your skin and hair.
  • Minimize your exposure to other known allergens during ragweed season, since symptoms are the result of a commulative effect of multiple allergens.
  • Get up-to-date pollen information for your area by visiting the National Allergy Bureau.

Patients Should See An Allergy/Asthma Specialist If They ...

  • Have prolonged or severe symptoms of rhinitis
  • Have nasal polyps
  • Have co-existing conditions such as asthma or recurrent sinusitis
  • Have symptoms interfering with quality of life and/or ability to function
  • Have limited their diet based upon perceived adverse reactions to foods and additives
  • Experience itchy mouth from raw fruits or vegetables
  • Have found medications to be ineffective or have had adverse reactions to medications
  • Are a child with allergic rhinitis, because immunotherapy may potentially prevent the development of asthma

Allergy suffers should prepare for the ragweed season by beginning prescribed allergy medication 10-14days prior to the peak of the season. To find an allergist/immunologist, visit the AAAAI Web site at www.aaaai.org.


© 2007 Health Resources Publishing