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Ragweed runs rampant in fall

From August to October, seasonal allergy sufferers have one thing to worry about when heading outdoors — ragweed.

From August to October, seasonal allergy sufferers have one thing to worry about when heading outdoors — ragweed.

As many Canadians know all too well, the allergen runs rampant in the fall months resulting in itchy and watery eyes, runny noses and sneezing.

Many people often mistake goldenrod for ragweed — but the two are very different plants. Goldenrod, with its yellow blooms, is often blamed for causing seasonal allergies, when the unremarkable ragweed plant with its toothed green leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers is the real culprit.

Ragweed is often found along the road, in fields and vacant lots in urban centres. It’s a stubborn plant and since its pollen can travel for hundreds of kilometres, it’s difficult to avoid.

“I always tell my patients to avoid peak pollen times in the fall, which are generally in the early part of the day,” says Dr. Ross Chang, allergy specialist. “Having a good antihistamine on hand is also a must — I recommend non-drowsy options like Reactine, which can start to work in as little as 20 minutes and lasts a full 24 hours.”

While ragweed may be a nuisance, the good news is the suffering will end with the first frost. So, allergy sufferers, you can happily look forward to the first cold night.

Ragweed the hardest to avoid
Given that each ragweed plant produces one billion pollen grains on average each season, and that pollen can travel several hundred kilometres, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid.

 
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