Fall officially arrives in September as endless summer days grow darker a little earlier and the evening becomes a little cooler. Still, it never truly feels like autumn until vibrant leaves begin to fall; cozy decorations are strung up with hay bales or cornstalks and the smell of pumpkins are in the air. And with it comes nasal allergies that impact nearly 50 million Americans annually.


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The most common form of nasal allergies is hay fever, which can be seasonal or perennial. Seasonal allergies occur in the spring, summer and/or early fall. Symptoms include itchy, watery eyes, nose or the roof of the mouth, stuffy nose, runny nose and sneezing.  Ragweed is often cited asthe main cause of fall hay fever.

What is ragweed?

It’s a weed that blossoms and discharges pollen from August through November in the eastern United States. The fine powder substance of the ragweed also comes from trees, grasses, and flowers. Generally, ragweed pollutants are at the highest in mid-September.

Who does ragweed impact?

Individuals with allergies to animals, dust or mold are susceptible as are those who have at least one plant allergy. If your parents or siblings have plant pollen allergies, you may be likely to develop an allergy to ragweed.


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What happens when ragweed allergy goes undiagnosed?

Sinusitis can result from untreated hay fever, regardless of its cause. And depending on how long it goes untreated, it can impact work productivity and social functioning.

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis occurs when viruses or bacteria infect the sinus cavities, usually due to blockage of the small drainage pathways that lead to the nasal passages, Becker Ear, Nose, and Throat Center in Plainsboro, N.J. area… “is more prevalent than arthritis or hypertension. Americans make 645,000 emergency department visits annually due to sinusitis”.

Fever, general fatigue, upper jaw pain, postnasal drip, headaches and facial pain are just some of the symptoms of sinusitis.

How to treat sinusitis?

Treatments vary from patient-to-patient. Consult an ear, nose and throat doctor for the most medically advanced treatments; made more effective and comfortable with the latest technology. If you are a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to treatment, over-the-counter medications may work for you. But the Mayo Clinic recommends visiting your doctor to discuss what treatment will work for you. Here are some of the most common treatments:

  1. Using a saline nasal solution to rinse your nasal passages
  2. Rinsing your nasal passages with a nasal corticosteroid, like Flonase to prevent and treat the inflammation.
  3. Over-the-counter decongestants, such as Sudafed, should be used for a few days. If your symptoms persist, see your doctor.
  4. For headaches or other pain, consult your doctor before you begin a pain reliever regiment as some of the over-the-counter pain relievers may cause your condition to worsen.

How can I protect myself from ragweed?

  1. It may sound odd but using a face mask outdoors has proven to help; wear between 5-10 a.m. and on windy days.
  2. Wash skin and hair frequently to remove pollen.
  3. As counter intuitive as it seems with the cool fall weather, keep your windows shut and don’t turn off your air conditioner.
  4. Leave it someone else to rake your leaves and remove them from your gutters; unless you wear a face mask.

The best way to protect yourself from a ragweed allergy or sinusitis is to see your doctor. They will work with you to determine the best cause of action to prevent, or, at the very least, limit your susceptibility to fall allergies and its complications.