SATURDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Ragweed, the bane of many allergy sufferers, will soon be in bloom.
That means several months of itchy, watering eyes, runny nose, sore throat, congestion and problems sleeping for the estimated 36 million Americans with seasonal allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).
Aug. 15 was the unofficial start of ragweed season, which affects some 10 to 20 percent of Americans.
About 17 species of ragweed grow in the United States, mostly in the East and Midwest. As the plant matures, ragweed flowers release the pollen, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Though each plant lives only one season, the weed produces one billion pollen grains that can travel up to 400 miles in the wind.
Allergy sufferers typically don't get relief until first frost.
Hay fever-type symptoms are the most typical ragweed reaction, though some with ragweed allergies react to eating some fresh fruits and vegetables, including bananas, cucumbers, zucchinis and melons. They develop itchiness and mild swelling around the mouth, called oral allergy syndrome.
To reduce your exposure to ragweed and deal with the symptoms, the AAAAI and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommend these steps:
You can track pollen and mold counts at the National Allergy Bureau.
SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, Aug. 13, 2009