8 Things to Know About Ragweed

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • Man sneezing
    The Sneeze Weed
    If you're stuffed up thanks to ragweed allergies, you're not alone. Millions of Americans are allergic to the ragweed plant and struggle to manage the symptoms it causes. But how much do you really know about this widespread allergy? Get the facts about this pesky plant.
  • man wiping nose
    1. It Dominates the Fall
    Ragweed is the primary culprit for sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes due to fall allergies. And it's no wonder: One single plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. What's more, these grains are lightweight, making them especially easy to spread.
  • little girl smelling flowers
    2. It Grows Everywhere
    Although ragweed is more prevalent in the East and Midwest of the United States, it's difficult to escape. The weed is found in almost all states in the U.S. as well as in Canada.
  • woman-blowing-nose
    3. It's Affected by Global Changes
    Ragweed allergies used to start in mid-August and run through September. But the allergy season is growing longer. Studies show that rising temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels may contribute to longer growth time of ragweed. Now, the allergy season starts in early August and lasts through October.
  • early morning run
    4. It's Worse for Early Risers
    Ragweed allergy counts are highest in the morning, from about 5 to 10 a.m. If you're allergic, plan to avoid outdoor activities during this time. Pollen counts are also higher on dry, hot, and windy days. Check the National Allergy Bureau to learn daily pollen counts in your region. [link: http://www.aaaai.org/global/nab-pollen-counts.aspx]
  • man-coughing-into-napkin
    5. It Causes More Than Hay Fever Symptoms
    Yes, ragweed brings on typical hay fever symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy throat, and watery eyes, but it can also cause skin conditions like hives. In some people, it can bring on asthma symptoms like coughing and breathing problems.
  • Doctor talking to patient in doctor's office
    6. You Need a Diagnosis
    Although it's easy to buy allergy medications at the local drugstore, it's important to get an accurate diagnosis first. By knowing exactly what you're allergic to, your doctor can help you find the best ways to manage your symptoms.
  • woman eating salad
    7. Your Diet Can Help Diagnose You
    Can't explain your reaction to certain foods? It may be your ragweed allergy. People who are allergic to ragweed often feel a tingling in their mouths after eating certain foods, including cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, and bananas.
  • Eyedropper
    8. New Treatments Are Available
    Over-the-counter drugs and allergy shots offer relief for some people. But if your usual treatment isn't working, new treatments for ragweed allergies are now available. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved short ragweed pollen allergen extract (Ragwitek), the first allergen extract taken under the tongue to treat ragweed allergy symptoms.
8 Things to Know About Ragweed
  1. Ragweed plants packed with pollen, American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Accessed Aug. 27, 2014 (http://www.aaaai.org/Aaaai/media/MediaLibrary/PDF%20Documents/Libraries/EL-ragweed-patient.pdf);
  2. Ragweed Allergy, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Accessed Aug. 29, 2014 (http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Types/Pages/ragweed-allergy.aspx);
  3. Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever), American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Accessed Aug. 29, 2014 (http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Types/rhinitis/Pages/default.aspx);
  4. FDA approves Ragwitek for short ragweed pollen allergies, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Accessed Aug. 30, 2014 (http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/newsroom/pressannouncements/ucm393820.htm);
  5. Pollen, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Accessed Aug. 30, 2014 (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/asthma/allergens/pollen/);
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Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 21
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.