Friday, May 18, 2012

You Can't Get Away From The Pollen | It Travels For Miles

Ragweed Allergy
Bet you didn't know that 10 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from ragweed allergy, or hay fever. You might even be one of those people. Sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, nose and throat and trouble sleeping make life miserable for these allergy sufferers. Exposure to Ragweeds may also trigger asthma attacks in some sufferers.

All this misery begins when ragweeds release pollen into the air, and this pollen releasing process continues late into the season until frosts kill the plant.

What Is Ragweed?
Here's some interesting information and facts about Ragweeds. Ragweeds are classified as weeds, and in general, various species of ragweed can be found all over the US and Canada. Although some species of ragweed may be present in every state within the US, there are certain areas within each state that it is much more likely to grow. It is often found along roadsides and river banks, in vacant lots and fields. Seeds in the soil even after many decades will grow when conditions are right.

A single plant lives only one season, but that plant produces up to 1 billion pollen grains! Pollen-producing and seed-producing flowers grow on the same plant, but are separate organs. After midsummer, as nights grow longer, ragweed flowers mature and release pollen. Warmth, humidity and breezes after sunrise help the release. The pollen must then travel by air to another plant to fertilize the seed for growth the coming year.

Ragweed pollen can travel far. Amazingly, Ragweed pollen has been measured in the air 400 miles out to sea and 2 miles up in the atmosphere, but most falls out close to its source. Rain and low morning temperatures (below 50 degrees Fahrenheit) slow pollen release. Ragweed plants usually grow in rural areas. Of course, the pollen counts are highest nearest the plants and shortly after dawn. The amount of pollen peaks in many urban areas between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., depending on the weather.

What Is Ragweed Allergy?
The job of immune system cells is to find foreign substances such as viruses, bacteria and foreign bodies and get rid of them. Normally, this response protects us from dangerous diseases. Allergy sufferers have especially-sensitive immune systems that react when they contact certain harmless substances called allergens.

Who Gets Ragweed Allergy?
75 percent of Americans, who are allergic to pollen-producing plants, are allergic to ragweed. People with allergies to one type of pollen tend to develop allergies to other pollens as well. When people who are allergic to ragweed pollen inhale its allergens from air, common hay fever symptoms develop.

People with ragweed allergy may also get symptoms when they eat cantaloupe and banana. Chamomile tea, sunflower seeds and honey containing pollen from Compositae family members occasionally cause severe reactions, including shock.

What Are Its Symptoms?
The allergic reaction to all plants that produce pollen is commonly known as hay fever. Symptoms include eye irritation, runny nose, stuffy nose, puffy eyes, sneezing, and inflamed, itchy nose and throat. For those with severe allergies, symptoms may include asthma attacks, chronic sinusitis, headaches and impaired sleep.

How Is It Diagnosed?
To identify an allergy to ragweed or one of its relatives requires a careful medical history, a physical exam and testing. The main approach to confirm a suspected allergy is the skin sensitivity test.

For this, the skin is scratched or pricked with extract of ragweed pollen. In sensitive people, the site will turn red, swollen and itchy. Sometimes blood tests are used to see if an antibody to ragweed is present. This is sometimes necessary, but it takes longer for processing by a laboratory and it is more expensive.

What Can I Do About It?
There is no cure for ragweed allergy. The best control is to avoid contact with the pollen, which of course, is very difficult to do given the amount of ragweed pollen in the air during pollination time. There is help, though.

Natural Herbal Remedies

While many people find relief with over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays, there are a growing number of people concerned about the side effects of these treatment options, and are looking for more natural sinus allergy remedies.  There are several important herbs that naturally provide sinus allergy relief. Click here to find out more.

Feel Better the Natural Way!
The Naturally Botanicals Team