Do your seasonal allergies seem to last longer now? Its not just your imagination! Given the millions of allergy sufferers held hostage by the drippy noses, burning, watery eyes, and continuous sneezing sessions it induces, ragweed may be one of the most hated plants on the planet.
A recent study, led by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in collaboration with Rutgers, has confirmed a link between seasonal warming and a longer ragweed season in some parts of central North America.
“The main takeaway is that we are already seeing a significant increase in the season length of ragweed; and that this increase in season length is associated with a greater warming at northern latitudes, consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections regarding climate change,” explains lead study author Lewis Ziska, PhD, research plant physiologist with USDA’s Crop Systems and Global Change Lab.
Researchers used ragweed pollen and temperature data recorded between the late 1990s and 2005 in 10 different locations in the U.S. and Canada and found that in all but two of the areas analyzed, the ragweed pollen season increased—in some cases by nearly a month. The lengthening of the allergy season coincides with an increase in warmer, frost-free days. Researchers noticed a general trend—the ragweed allergy season grew longest in the higher latitudes of the northern United States and Canada.
Ragweed is one of the most common weed allergens, affecting about 10 percent of the population.
Among allergy sufferers, nearly a third endure hay fever misery brought on by ragweed pollen. Under normal circumstances, a single ragweed plant creates 1 million pollen grains; but a climate change–charged, more CO2-rich environment boosts that number to upwards of 3 to 4 million pollen grains per plant, according to Clifford Bassett, MD, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York and a member of the public-education committee at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Here are some solutions to help you survive ragweed allergies:
• Make sure you’re actually allergic to ragweed. It may sound silly, but allergists recommend being tested to confirm you’re allergic to what you actually think is making you sneeze. ImmuneTech offers a home test kit for ragweed and other allergens; visit www.immunetech.com to order yours today. For a 15% discount, use code ILG at checkout.
• Plan vacations accordingly. For many people, February still marks the cold season, months away from the miserableness of hay fever symptoms. But take your ragweed allergy into consideration as you plan this year’s summer or fall getaway. Pollen counts are generally lower around water. So if you vacation during prime ragweed season—summer and fall, or year-round in places like Florida or Hawaii—plan some time on the beach or around rivers and lakes for some ragweed relief.
• Create better indoor air. While houseplants can’t rid your air of pollens you’re allergic to, certain houseplants can counteract indoor air pollution that further aggravates your allergy problem.