Mesa, Arizona (PRWEB) August 31, 2014
For many, fall turns daily life into an allergic mess, and ragweed is likely the culprit. Ragweed is the most common cause of fall hay fever and affects 10 to 20 percent of Americans.
The most common symptoms of ragweed allergy include a stuffed up or runny nose, itchy eyes and throat, and sneezing. Ragweed allergy can also lead to wheezing, asthma attacks, and sinusitis.
Those seeking treatment for ragweed allergies should consult an allergist about allergy immunotherapy - the only treatment shown to change the underlying allergy (not just its symptoms). Allergy immunotherapy starts with a serum containing extracts of ragweed and other common pollens. Patients can take the serum through allergy shots or sublingual (under-the-tongue) drops.
Dr. Agren, founder and director of AllergyEasy, a sublingual allergy treatment program, said that most of his patients prefer the allergy drops because they are safer and more convenient.
"Because the drops aren't associated with the same degree of risk for anaphylactic reaction that shots are, they can be taken at home rather than at the doctor's office," said Dr. Agren. "In this busy day and age, drops seem to work into people's schedules much more easily than shots do."
Ragweed plants are flowering herbs or shrubs. There are about 17 species of ragweed with varying leaf shapes, flowers, and heights (ranging from just a few inches to several feet tall). They are commonly found lining agricultural fields, roadsides or river banks and in vacant lots and urban landscapes.
There's nothing inherently bad about ragweed pollen. Rather, it's the body's reaction to the pollens that causes problems. The immune system is used to fighting off viruses and bacteria, but occasionally an overly-sensitive immune system will mistake a harmless pollen granule for an invading enemy and release chemicals such as histamine to fend it off. These chemicals lead to sniffling, sneezing, and other miserable symptoms.
Unfortunately, there's no outrunning ragweed. In its short, one-season life, one ragweed plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen granules that are carried far and wide on the wind. Though ragweed tends to be more common in the Midwest and the East, there's virtually no part of the country that is free of ragweed pollen. And while ragweed season used to be contained in a several-week period starting in mid-August, it now starts even earlier and lasts longer - a phenomenon commonly attributed to climate change.
There are a few things people can do to limit exposure to ragweed such as washing hands frequently, limiting time spent outdoors in the fall (particularly between the hours of 10 and 3), using high-efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA), and cleaning filters often.
But for people with ragweed allergies that markedly affect their quality of life, it often proves more effective to allergy-proof themselves rather than their environment.
AllergyEasy is used by doctors in 32 states. Patients interested in learning more about allergy treatment can consult myallergyeasy.com to find a provider in their area.