Ragweed (known as Common or Short Ragweed, scientific name: Ambrosia artemisiifolia) is a plant that thrives during the Fall season, with pollen levels rising in August and peaking through September/October. Ragweed can be found all over the United States, and Ohio and the Midwest are prone to very high levels of ragweed pollen. Ragweed likes to grow on the edges of roads, lots, and fields and looks like the picture below:
Ragweed is a wind-pollinated plant (anemophilous), and produces billions of pollen grains per plant that can travel for miles and miles through the air--no wonder this plant is the prime cause for most allergy sufferers during the Fall season! Symptoms of ragweed allergy include: itchy/watery/red eyes, sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, post-nasal drip, itchy throat, cough, and sometimes asthma symptoms (wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath).
One very interesting fact about ragweed is that bananas and melon fruits contain proteins that can "look like" ragweed pollen protein, which leads to oral/throat irritation or itching that is a condition called Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS), also known as Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). Symptoms occur because of contact irritation in the mouth/throat/tongue caused by pollen-related proteins in these foods. Usually symptoms affecting the mouth and throat are mild, resolve quickly, and do not need treatment. Interestingly, cooking the fruit (e.g. banana bread) can change the protein structure so that it no longer "looks like" ragweed pollen, so most people with this condition can tolerate eating cooked fruit (like banana bread).
If you think you have ragweed allergy or PFAS/OAS, schedule an appointment to see an allergist at Premier Allergy & Asthma today!