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Ragweed Season Starts August 15th

Pediatric Allergy Basics


Updated September 08, 2005

MILWAUKEE – Ragweed comes in to bloom beginning in mid-August, making August 15 th the unofficial start of Ragweed Season. For the country's 36 million seasonal allergy sufferers, this means more sneezing and wheezing, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Ragweed facts

  • Each ragweed plant produces one billion pollen grains per average season
  • Grains can travel up to 400 miles due to their lightweight texture
  • Allergy sufferers in urban areas can feel the impact of ragweed because it grows in abundance in vacant lots
  • Ragweed commonly grows in fields and along roadsides
  • It is most prevalent throughout the Northeast, South and Midwest
  • It blooms from mid-August to October
"Ragweed is a stubborn plant that can grow anywhere. Ragweed pollen is an important cause of fall allergy symptoms," said Richard Nicklas, MD, Fellow of the AAAAI and member of the AAAAI's Rhinitis Committee.

Symptoms of "hay fever," or allergic rhinitis
Once exposed to ragweed, allergy sufferers often experience sneezing, runny noses and swollen, itchy, watery eyes. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis, commonly called "hay fever," can have a major impact on a person's quality of life including their ability to function well at school or work.

The AAAAI reports:

  • People with allergic rhinitis miss 3.8 million days of work and school each year
  • More than one third of allergy sufferers said allergic rhinitis decreases their work effectiveness
  • 80% of patients with seasonal allergies experience sleep problems, which can lead to fatigue, loss of concentration and poor performance at school and work
  • Over 16.7 million visits to office-based physicians each year are attributed to allergic rhinitis
  • Lost work and school days, medications and physician office visits related to allergic rhinitis total more than $3 billion annually in the United States
The AAAAI recommends the following tips for allergy sufferers to help reduce their exposure to ragweed:
  • Keep windows closed at all times during ragweed season to prevent pollen from drifting into your home. Use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air
  • Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high. Peak pollen times are usually between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Keep your car windows closed when traveling
  • Take a shower after spending time outside – pollen can collect on your hair and skin
  • Don't hang sheets or clothing outside to dry. Pollens can collect on them
  • Minimize exposure to other known allergens during ragweed season, since symptoms are the result of a cumulative effect of multiple allergens and non-allergic triggers
  • Get up-to-date pollen information from your area from the National Allergy Bureau at www.aaaai.org/nab

When to see an allergist/immunologist
Allergic rhinitis may contribute to sleep disorders, fatigue and learning problems. And, people with allergic rhinitis often have asthma and/or sinusitis. These people should consider seeing an allergist/immunologist to develop a treatment plan that will best help them gain control of their symptoms. To find an allergist/immunologist, call AAAAI's referral line at 1(800) 822-2762 or visit the AAAAI Web site at www.aaaai.org

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States , representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals, and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,000 members in the United States , Canada and 60 other countries.

Editor's note: The AAAAI has photos of ragweed available for your use. They can be downloaded at http://www.aaaai.org/media/photos_graphics/plants/stm

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