Ragweed Alert from AAAAI, August 2009

Beware oral allergy syndrome (OAS) peeps, this AAAAI.org press release is for you:

Ragweed season strikes again

MILWAUKEE – Another battle against sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and congestion is right around the corner for the estimated 36 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies. August 15 marks the unofficial beginning of ragweed season, which is the number one cause of fall allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI.org).

Ragweed is common in most regions of the United States from mid-August through the first frost. Each plant produces 1 billion pollen grains in an average season, and the grains can travel up to 400 miles with the help of the wind.

Many individuals with ragweed allergy also experience symptoms while eating certain fresh fruits and vegetables. Known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS), it can also cause itchiness and mild swelling around the mouth. Common foods that cause OAS in people with ragweed allergy include bananas, cucumbers, zucchinis and melons.

Treatment for ragweed allergy includes allergy shots, which are effective in up to 90 percent of patients. There are also easy steps individuals can take to limit their exposure and reduce their symptoms:

* Keep your windows closed at night. If possible, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.
* Try to stay indoors when the pollen or mold counts are reported to be high. Wear a pollen mask if long periods of exposure are unavoidable.
* Check your area's pollen and mold levels from the National Allergy Bureau at www.aaaai.org/nab.
* Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves because it stirs up pollen and molds. Also avoid hanging sheets or clothes outside to dry.
* Take a shower before bed to wash pollen from your hair and face, which prevents it from ending up on your pillow.

To find out if your symptoms are due to seasonal allergies or another allergic condition, visit The Virtual Allergist™, which is the AAAAI’s new interactive, online symptom-checker. Then schedule a visit with an allergist/immunologist, the best-qualified medical professional to diagnose and treat ragweed allergy and other allergic diseases.


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