To live with ragweed allergy makes life miserable for a particular time of the year. Ragweed plants are weeds that are found in most rural areas and open spaces in the United States. These plants usually grow in late spring and fall months and release tiny grains of pollen to fertilize more ragweed plants.
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The ragweed pollens are likely to cause seasonal allergy in many people, who may suffer from the adverse immune response when they breathe in pollens. Usually, your body’s immune system defends such harmful invaders to prevent illness. But when these foreign particles manage to enter in your body, it causes certain allergic reactions such as sneezing, running nose or itchy eyes.
Reportedly, around 26 percent in America suffer from a ragweed allergy and it is unlikely to go away once developed. Fortunately, you can cure the symptoms using medicated allergy shots.
Symptoms of a Ragweed Allergy
The symptoms of ragweed allergy may vary from place to place and also depend on the region where you stay. However, some common symptoms are:
- itchy, watery eyes
- running nose or congestion
- scratchy throat
- coughing or wheezing
- sinus pressure
- decreased sense of smell or taste
- depriving sleep quality
The symptoms may become worse due to irritants, such as air pollution, tobacco smoke, and strong odors. Even warmer climatic temperature is likely to extend the ragweed season, causing ragweed to produce more amount of pollen.
Causes of Ragweed Allergy
A ragweed allergy occurs when your body’s immune system is not able to respond to ragweed pollen. In order to fight the invader, the body releases certain chemicals that result in form of various allergic reactions. Human body releases histamine on encountering a ragweed pollen. The histamine further causes various uncomfortable symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing and running nose.
People who are allergic to ragweed are also allergic to mold, dust mites, pet dander, and other types of plant pollen.
Ragweed Allergy Diagnosis
You need to refer to an allergist to get your allergy test and confirm the diagnosis. An allergist who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies will firstly ask your medical history and your symptoms. You must tell your doctor all the symptoms that you’re facing.
After that, the allergist will perform a skin prick test in order to determine the cause of these symptoms. However, having a reaction during a skin prick test doesn’t indicate that you’re allergic to the substance. This prick test is a medical evaluation to diagnose and create a treatment plan.
Ragweed Allergy Treatment
Ragweed pollen is very difficult to avoid, so you’ll probably experience continuous allergic reactions. However, there are numerous different treatments that can help relieve ragweed allergy symptoms.
Medicines that can ease symptoms include:
The allergist prescribes you the following medicines for diagnosing ragweed allergy:
- antihistamines, such as loratadine (Claritin) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- decongestants, like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) or oxymetazoline (Afrin nasal spray)
- nasal corticosteroids - fluticasone (Flonase) or mometasone (Nasonex)
- other prescribed medicines are: Actifed and Claritin-D
In case the aforementioned medicines don’t work, the doctor may prescribe allergy shots. These shots are a form of immunotherapy involving a series of injections carrying allergen. The amount of allergen gradually increases in a shot over time. The shots modify body’s response to the allergen, hence, helps in reducing the severity of allergic reactions. You need to administer allergy shots for up to one to three years to completely get rid of the allergy.
Besides that, sublingual immunotherapies are also available to treat ragweed allergies. This type of treatment involves allergen containing pill underneath your tongue and then swallowing it. This treatment provides same benefits as allergy shots.