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The weather may be cooling down, but your allergies are just ramping up. You are sneezing, your nose is runny or stuffy, and your throat is itchy. You could be one of the millions of people with hay fever, the allergy caused by ragweed pollen.

What is ragweed?

Ragweed is a weed that can grow almost anywhere, but especially in the Eastern states and the Midwest. From August to November, ragweed blooms and releases pollen—a very fine powder also made by trees, grasses and flowers. In many areas of the country, ragweed pollen levels are highest in mid-September. One ragweed plant can produce 1 million granules of pollen each day that travel in the wind for hours, peaking in urban areas in the afternoon.

What do pollen counts mean?

Pollen is measured for specific plants and reported as pollen counts. These counts give the number of grains of pollen in a certain amount of air in a set time period. But the counts change with the time of day and the weather. For example, they are likely higher on warm, breezy days and lower on chilly, wet days. Ragweed pollen is usually highest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., depending upon the weather.

What are the symptoms of ragweed allergy?

Ragweed allergy symptoms include:

• Sneezing
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Itchy throat or itchiness inside the ears
• Hives
• Swollen eyelids and itchy eyes
• Some people also develop asthma symptoms, including coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing.

People who are allergic to ragweed often feel a tingling or burning in their mouths after they eat cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon or bananas. These fruits can cause these symptoms at any time, but especially during ragweed season. Also, sunflower seeds, chamomile tea and honey can cause severe symptoms in some people who have ragweed allergy.

How is ragweed allergy diagnosed?

Your allergist will review your medical history, ask questions about your symptoms and allergens, and may test perform skin testing. With skin testing, a small amount of a possible allergen is pricked or scratched into the skin. If you’re sensitive to an allergen, a small, red lump appears on the skin.

Who can treat my ragweed allergy?

An allergist can treat your ragweed allergy. Allergists are experts who treat allergies and asthma. The allergists of A&AS offer state of the art ragweed allergy treatment, including allergy drops for under your tongue and allergy tablets called Ragwitek as alternatives to allergy injections. 

If you think you suffer from hay fever, call (800) 86-COUGH, option 2 to schedule a consultation.

Allergy & Asthma Specialists,SM a group practice with eight locations in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, provides state-of-the-art medical care in a personal and caring environment, emphasizing the control of asthma and allergic disease, while avoiding side effects from medications.

Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM

Locations: Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Collegeville, Pottstown, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Lansdale, Doylestown
Office hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Evening appointments available weekly on alternating days.
Toll-free: (800) 86-COUGH
Local: (610) 825-5800
Website: www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com