Outsmarting Your Fall Allergies

Of course, we all hate to see weeds mucking up our gardens and lawns. But, during the fall season, a specific family of weeds does much more than simply invade our green space—it invades our bodies and causes an extremely unpleasant cascade of allergy symptoms.

ragweedThe trouble with ragweed
This troublesome plant is called ragweed. There are 41 different species of the weed and it grows most abundantly in Eastern and Midwestern states.

The problem with ragweed is that it produces a vast amount of allergy-inducing pollen during the fall months. That pollen is picked up in the air and can be carried for more than 400 miles. So, even though you live on the West Coast, you are breathing in plenty of airborne ragweed pollen. 

Experts commonly define the height of the ragweed season as August, September, and October. However, if you feel like you’ve been experiencing worsening allergic symptoms beyond these three months, you’re not alone. Some studies report that the ragweed season is gradually getting longer and more severe. So far, scientists blame this on rising temperatures and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Getting the upper hand
More than 70 million Americans have seasonal allergies and nearly all of these individuals have symptoms that are triggered by ragweed, the most common being sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. Ragweed can also bring about more serious symptoms like conjunctivitis (pink eye), asthma attacks, or worsening eczema.

In years past, the most popular way to treat ragweed-induced allergies was to take a traditional antihistamine and go to bed. Nobody could withstand the drowsiness caused by that line of treatment! Thankfully, there are other options in today’s pharmaceutical marketplace.

  • Claritin and Zyrtec are over-the-counter antihistamines that are less likely to cause drowsiness.
  • Steroid nose sprays work very well and cause very few side effects.
  • Quercetin and Stinging Nettle are herbs with natural antihistamine properties.
  • In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a medication specifically for ragweed allergies—Ragwitek.  In studies, it reduced allergy symptoms by 26-percent.

These medications will work best if you combine the drug therapy with other lifestyle modifications, some of which are noted below.

  • Pollen settles into your skin and hair throughout the day. Be sure to shower before going to bed.neti pot 2
  • Use a Neti pot or saline solution to flush pollen from your nasal passages.
  • Keep your windows closed and continue to run your air conditioner, even if the weather seems nice in early fall.
  • Change the air filter in your furnace and be sure to regularly clean the vents.
  • If possible, clean your floors and vacuum with a HEPA filter on a regular basis.

The cooler weather and changing leaves make fall a beautiful time of year. Don’t let ragweed ruin it! Take a week and try the remedies we suggested in this blog. Through the process of trial-and-error, you should be able to find relief quickly. If not, be sure to contact your doctor and ask about stronger antihistamines or allergy shots. 

If you are on a medication for your allergies and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

By WHBlogger 
10/20/2014 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

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