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Ragweed Allergy, Can Winter Arrive Sooner?

common ragweed plants cause allergies

If you have allergies between the months of August through October, the most likely cause of your problem is ragweed.

Ragweed allergy is by far the most common cause of fall allergies, and it can cause problems for you even if you live 100 miles from the nearest ragweed plants.

Ragweed pollen is thought to be one of the most allergic of all pollens because of its highly reactive protein structure.

For the average allergy sufferer, about 50 grains of grass pollen in a cubic meter of air will cause an allergic reaction. However, only 10 grains of ragweed pollen are needed to cause the same symptoms. And ragweed pollen is microscopic. At 17 microns in size, you could set 10 grains side by side, and they wouldnt be much larger in size than the width of a human hair!

Compounding its effects on allergy sufferers is the fact that each individual ragweed plant can produce up to a billion grains of pollen each season! Because the pollen grains are so tiny, they are very light and can be carried by the wind for hundreds of miles. This can make it a major cause of allergies and hay fever for people in areas even where ragweed does not grow.

Symptoms and Treatment

Ragweed Allergy Symptoms: See this page for a thorough explanation of the symptoms you will experience during ragweed season.

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Ragweed Allergy treatment: Ragweed is an airborne allergen just like the ones that cause hay fever. It can therefore be treated in the same manner that all other airborne allergies are. See our allergen avoidance tips, or specific treatments on our Hat Fever Treatment page.

Ragweed Season: Know when you should start taking precautions against ragweed pollen. Review our chart showing the various allergy seasons and understand where ragweed allergy starts and ends.

About the Ragweed Plant

ragweed allergy common ragweed

Ragweed is a weed that is closely related to sunflowers. It has many similarities to sunflowers and also many distinct differences. It produces yellow flowers and uses wind pollination and seeds as means of reproduction.

There are 41 species of ragweed around the world and 17 species found in the US. They are more prevalent in warmer areas of the Midwest and Eastern states, however at least a few species can be found almost anywhere in the US.

Ragweed Pollen: Read some more specific stats on this highly reactive type of pollen.

Ragweed Identification

Common ragweed is a rather boring and unremarkable plant. Unlike its larger counterpart -giant ragweed- common ragweed rarely stands out and has but a few key identifying characteristics.

One similar feature of most species is the very tooth-like appearance of their leaves. In fact, the name "ragweed" is a reference to the ragged looking shape of the plants leaves. Giant Ragweed is much easier to identify and you should see our other page on it for more detail and some of its identifying features

Ragweed Pictures: See our colelction of pictures to identify the types of ragweed that may be growing in your vicinity.

Giant Ragweed: Learn the differences between Common Ragweed and Giant Ragweed. They are striking.

See More Ragweed Pictures for help on identifying other species.

For additional information on ragweed, see this other website on Ragweed Allergy.

A National Menace to Human Health

ragweed is a menace to our health

While it is native to the US, ragweed has become an invasive species in many European countries beginning in about 1860, when it was unintentionally brought over in contaminated grain shipments. No matter the source, wherever it manages to spread, it causes intensive allergies for those who live in its path.

In some countries the ragweed allergy problem is so bad that ragweed is recognized on a national level as a significant threat to both people and farmland.

In fact, in many European countries it is mandated by law that farmers remove it from their land to prevent it from spreading.

The infestation of ragweed is so bad in the countries of Croatia and Hungary (80% of farmland!) that land owners are fined for failure to clear the plants from their property prior to flowering period!