Feel like there's no end in sight when it comes to fall allergy misery? Blame global warming. Research suggests that with global warming, nasal allergy during the ragweed pollen season - also called hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis - lasts up to three weeks longer than it used to, and the further north you live, the longer you have to wait for relief.
Considered the most allergenic of all pollens, ragweed pops up in the Eastern and Midwest states everywhere starting in mid-August. One plant alone can produce up to one billion pollen grains, and each grain can travel more than 100 miles.
To help the one in 10 Americans affected by the sniffling, sneezing and itching of ragweed allergies, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members suggest following these six steps:
1.Get a jump start - Mark your calendar to remind you to take medication before ragweed allergy symptoms start. Mid-August is when the plant blooms in most of the country, but it's a little later in the South.
2.Keep the pollen outside out - Ragweed travels with the wind, so close windows in your house and car.
3.Come clean - After spending time outdoors, shower, change and wash your clothes. Clean your nasal passages, too, by using a salt water rinse.
4.Mask your misery - Wear a face mask when you garden or mow the lawn. Better yet, assign those tasks to family members who don't suffer from hay fever.
5.Consider a cure - If non-prescription medication isn't doing the trick, it may be time to see an allergist who can provide more effective treatment. One option is immunotherapy - allergy shots. The treatment involves regular injections with pollen allergens. Immunotherapy can significantly lessen or get rid of nasal and eye allergy symptoms altogether. "Allergy shots can not only reduce allergy symptoms and medication use, it can prevent the development of asthma and the development of other allergies," said allergist Dr. Myron Zitt, past president of ACAAI.
6.Don't let up too soon - Because the nasal and eye symptoms of associated with ragweed allergies can linger after the pollen can no longer be detected in the air , don't stop your allergy medication immediately.