Ragweed plants are common throughout the U.S., mostly in the rural areas of the Eastern and Midwestern regions. This year, above-normal temperatures and rainy weather is expected to hit the Southeast harder than normal, making Fall 2014 a potentially bad year for sufferers of ragweed allergies.

What is a Ragweed Allergy?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), ragweed allergy affects roughly 10 to 20 percent of Americans. Ragweed allergy is a sensitivity to the pollen that is released from ragweed plants. It is typically triggered when ragweed pollen enters the nose and throat through inhalation of air polluted with ragweed pollen. Mild symptoms include itchy and/or puffy eyes, itchy throat, itchy nose, runny and stuffy nose and sneezing. Severe symptoms may involve chronic sinusitis, asthma attacks, headaches and impaired sleep.

Georgia Should Brace for a Rough Allergy Season

Allergy season in the South normally peaks around September 19, with allergy symptoms at their worst during the four or five weeks before and after that date. This year, according to AccuWeather.com, September and October will bring warm and wet weather to the Southeastern U.S, which will prolong ragweed season.

Allergy sufferers in some regions of the Northeast and Midwest may get an early reprieve this year, thanks to an early freeze that is expected hit to those regions and possibly end the ragweed season as early as mid-September.

Fall allergy sufferers should be careful in the colder months when it’s time to shut doors and windows to keep out the wintry chill. Cold weather can also trigger asthma attacks on top of typical allergy symptoms.

The indoors present another potential allergen: dust mites. Investing in a HEPA filter and placing one in your air heating and cooling vents will help prevent flareups of indoor allergies from dust mites. HEPA filters will also help rid your home of pollen that may have settled indoors during the summer. A thorough cleaning of your vents can also help with this problem.

Living With Ragweed Allergy

Living with ragweed in Atlanta is no easy task. Ragweed allergy has no cure, but there are measures you can take to minimize flareups. The AAFA recommends staying abreast of pollen counts in your area via your local news media or by calling the National Allergy Bureau at 1-800-9-POLLEN. When pollen counts are high, stay indoors with central air conditioning with a HEPA filter attachment.

You could consider relocating to get away from ragweed and get some relief, but there is no guarantee you will not develop an allergy to weeds or flowers in your new location as well. Relocation is not always an option for other reasons.

Antihistamines can relieve the runny nose and sneezing associated with ragweed allergies, and the newer antihistamines on the market do not cause drowsiness. Decongestants are very effective for relief from nasal congestion.

Another option is allergy shots if medication is ineffective. For allergy shots to work, the type of allergy must be accurately identified. It is a very good idea to check with your doctor if seasonal allergies become a problem; it can affect your quality of life.