By McCall Vrydaghs
Storm Center 7 Meteorologist
While there’s been an uptick in late-summer colds, there may be another reason why you’ve be sniffling or sneezing lately.
Ragweed allergy season, commonly known as hay fever, typically begins in early August, peaks in mid-September, and lasts through mid-October.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, there are 17 species of ragweed in the United States, and it’s quite dominant in the Midwest. Ragweed plants can produce billions of fine powder-like pollen particles, and it’s the fine granular nature of this pollen that makes this season so severe for many people.
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It doesn’t take much for the pollen to be swept away in the breeze and spread throughout the region.
A dry, breezy fall day can bring about the worst conditions, while a wet, rainy day can dampen the pollen’s spread.
Do you know what ragweed looks like? Most varieties have leaves that look fern-like, and they are similar to leaves of a marigold plant, but they don’t boast the beautiful flowers. They are common along the roadside and grow in every North American state but Alaska.
How can you get rid of them? Hand pulling the weed is the best way. Mowing over the weed only makes the pollen spread, setting of a slew of allergic reactions for hay fever sufferers.
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Symptoms of ragweed allergies include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, headaches, irritated eyes and itchy throat, according to the ACAAI. Asthma sufferers can experience wheezing and coughing when ragweed begins flying.
The best way to minimize the impact of this pollen is to take allergy medications with antihistamines. Showering before bedtime to remove pollen from your body can help you get a good night’s sleep. This would lessen the chances of any pollen being transferred to your sheets and leaving you to breathe it in all night long.
Bathing your pets who might crawl in bed with your or want to cuddle on the couch is another way to avoid unwanted contact with pollen.
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Their fur can pick up this pollen and bring it into your home.
While most of us do not open our windows during the heat of summer, we may begin to as we move into fall.
Peak ragweed season doesn’t arrive until mid-September, so this would coincide with the time frame when you might want to open the windows more often.
Of course, if symptoms become too intense, speaking with an allergist is advised.