Ragweed and Allergy

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Category: Allergic Rhinitis and Sinusitus Published on Monday, 16 September 2013 Written by Yong Tsai, MD
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Pollens, tiny particles, travel in the air or carried by insects. However, if it's windy while pollination is in progress, there exists a higher tendency of wind-borne-pollen induced allergic conjunctivitis, rhinitis, sinusitis and asthma. Here in Florida, if your symptoms worsen during late summer to autumn, ragweed and glass pollen would be likely culprits. Ragweed is the major inhalant allergens in the fall. While, warm air encourages pollination, cool temperatures reduce pollen production and rain washes it away. And because humidity affects the pollination process, a combination of low humidity and a wind increase the amount of pollen in the air, which can increase the misery of allergy sufferers.

Although it is critical for very sensitive people to avoid allergenic plants, it is almost impossible since pollen can travel many miles on a breeze. It can also be present at home through open windows and doors.   Therefore, avoiding intense outdoor activity during the early morning and late afternoon hours when pollen counts are high, and by wearing a dust mask, exposure can be reduced. Other prevention methods include keeping windows closed, to run a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrester) or ULPA (Ultra Low Penetration Air) air purifier, to clean and replace air-conditioner filters regularly.

Oral Allergic Syndrome (OAS), also called pollen-food allergy, is an allergic reaction to pollens, fruits (usually fresh) and vegetables.   The protein of pollen is structurally similar to fruits and vegetables. OAS typically develops in adult hay fever sufferers. In adults, up to 60% of all food allergic reactions are due to cross-reactions between foods and inhalant allergens. Most patients develop an itching or burning sensation in the lip, mouth, ears or pharynx within 5 minute and almost all patients within 30 minutes after contact with the food. People allergic to ragweed react frequently to banana, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, zucchini and cucumber. This does not mean that they will experience adverse effects from all of these foods at the same time. Reactions may begin with one type of food and with reactions to others developing later. Often well-cooked, canned or pasteurized food offenders cause little to no reaction due to break down of the proteins. OAS is also common in people with tree or grass allergy. People with grass allergy may react to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melon, and orange.

There are several over the counter antihistamines such as Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec which are all effective. But nasal steroid spray need be prescribed by your physician. Typically, antihistamines and nasal steroid spray work best when taken on a regular basis before exposure to offending allergen. You may also need to see an allergist for further allergy evaluation and receive an allergy shot, if necessary.

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