HOUSTON – It's ragweed season, and even if you may not consider yourself allergic to anything, you may find yourself getting itchy or sneezy during this time of year.
Here is what you need to know about ragweed:
WHO IS ALLERGIC TO RAGWEED?
About 23 million Americans are affected by ragweed, making it one of the most common allergies.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Sneezing, sniffling, itchy eyes, itchy nose are all symptoms of ragweed pollen allergy. Fever and lethargy are not related to allergies, they typically indicate a cold.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), there are other plants that are related to ragweed and may cause symptoms as well. Avoid planting sunflowers, sage, burweed, marsh elder, rabbitbrush, mugwort, groundsel bush and eupatorium near your home.
Food such as cantaloupes, bananas, watermelon and sunflower seeds may cause symptoms if you also have a ragweed allergy, according to AAFA.
Complications of ragweed pollen allergy can include sinus infections, pulmonary infections, bronchitis and asthma attacks.
WHEN WILL YOU FEEL IT?
Ragweed season runs mid-August through October.
Dr. Randall Brauchle from Texas ENT said he typically sees a peak in patients suffering from this around Labor Day.
Any part of the country can experience ragweed pollen allergy since the pollen is so light it can easily spread far and wide.
CAN I WAIT TO TAKE AN ALLERGY MEDICINE ONCE I FEEL SYMPTOMS?
It's typically best to begin an antihistamine / nasal steroid spray regimen before symptoms start. On average, that's about two weeks before the ragweed season begins, at the start of August.
However, it's never too late.
"You can take these medicines through the end of October because ragweed will usually stop around that time. But it's better than sitting at home and suffering into getting sick with a sinus infection," Brauchle said.