Why are my allergies so bad?

Flowering ragweed plant growing outside, a common allergen

The answer is blowing in the wind. 

Ragweed is a weed grows throughout the country, especially in Minnesota. Ragweed flowers in mid-August and one plant can release up to a billion pollen grains. The ragweed pollen can travel over 400 miles by the wind and unfortunately finds its way to the sinuses of allergy sufferers.

“Ragweed began flowering here in the Twin Cities just over a week ago, and weed pollens are climbing high,” explains Hennepin Healthcare allergist Dr. John Sweet. “The previous wet weather followed by predicted hot dry weather will likely make this a bad pollen season. If you are on allergy shots, you may need to increase their frequency to control symptoms.”

Dr. Sweet recommends that those who are not currently on allergy shots do the following to minimize symptoms:

  • Start steroid nasal sprays and antihistamines immediately.
  • Close all windows, even during evening hours, to prevent pollen from entering the home.
  • Shower nightly to rinse pollens off skin and hair.
  • Use a Netti pot to rinse the pollen out of the nose.
  • Dry laundry in a hot dryer – not outside where it can collect pollen.

“Remember, allergy medications only treat symptoms, but allergy shots treat the underlying cause which greatly reduces symptoms,” says Dr. Sweet. “Check with your allergist to make sure you’re prepared for ragweed season and seek allergy testing if you are not sure of the cause of your symptoms.”

Dr. John Sweet sees patients at the Hennepin Healthcare Clinic & Specialty Center as well as the Golden Valley Clinic and North Loop Clinic. To schedule an appointment call 612-873-6963.

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