It stills feel like summertime, but the scourge of fall is upon us.
Ragweed, the pollen-producing plant that causes itchy eyes, sneezing and runny noses, has resettled in North Texas.
Ragweed has been pollinating at high levels since Sept. 7 and won’t be going away anytime soon, said Bob Lanier, a Fort Worth allergist.
“The pollen counts which have been sporadic for weeks now are steady,” Lanier said. “People will note symptoms after three to five days exposure, then notice symptoms to sustain even if the counts drop — a ‘priming effect.’ ”
The wet weather this summer helped fuel the high pollen counts, said Fort Worth allergist James Haden. Take antihistamines and nasal sprays each day during the allergy season.
“They work much better to prevent allergy symptoms before they start than to fix the symptoms once they start,” Haden said.
Here are five things to know about ragweed, according to Lanier’s website:
Wash your hair at night
Washing the pollen out of your hair before going to sleep will help you feel better the next morning.
Avoid certain fruits
Some fruits, including watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas, and avocados, are in the same family as ragweed. People sensitive to ragweed may have cross-over sensitivities to these foods. It is rarely dangerous and mostly is associated with itching of the mouth, but sometimes involves coughing.
Can I desensitize myself by snacking on ragweed?
“You better not try munching on ragweed … you might get a big surprise,” Lanier said. “No evidence this works at all, but it sure can produce a dermatitis.”
People with allergies have strong immune systems
“The bottom line is that allergy is a marker for superior defense and — get this — a long life,” Lanier said. “That’s right — people with allergy live longer than other people and have fewer and milder forms of cancer.”
What about ragweed and global warming?
“Well … to avoid a political argument about whether man is causing warming, or indeed if warming exists, the short answer is no,” Lanier said. “But no one would deny that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have been increasing in the last 100 years. Also it’s not controversial to say that higher CO2 favors the growth of some plants such as rice (good) and ragweed (bad). Cities and metropolitan areas act as micro environments predictive of changes. We do know that biomass of ragweed is increasing.”