- slide 1 of 4
Roughly 10 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from ragweed allergy, also known as hay fever. Common symptoms include runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, itchy eyes, nose and throat, facial pressure or pain, and difficulty sleeping. In some people, the allergens can precipitate an asthma attack. There is no cure for ragweed allergy, but there are ragweed allergy remedies that can help relieve symptoms.
- slide 2 of 4
The immune system of people who are allergic to ragweed releases a substance called histamine which is responsible for allergy symptoms. Antihistamines block the action of histamine and come in the form of pills, liquid, eye drops and nasal sprays. Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines include Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin and Ocu-Hist. Prescription antihistamines include Allegra, Clarinex, Astelin and Emadine. Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness.
Decongestants relieve nasal swelling and congestion by shrinking swollen nasal tissues and blood vessels. They are often prescribed with antihistamines and also come in the form of pills, liquid, sprays and drops. OTC decongestants include Zyrtec-D, Sudafed, Afrin and Visine. Prescription decongestants include Allegra-D and Claritin-D. Side effects include insomnia, irritability and high blood pressure. Decongestant nasal sprays and eye drops are for short-term use only.
Quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid and antioxidant, can help prevent the release of histamine and cell damage from free radicals. Foods high in quercetin include citrus fruits, apples, berries, tomatoes, red onions, broccoli, black tea and red wine. To help prevent allergy attacks, it is best to take a supplement six weeks before the start of allergy season. Possible side effects from taking supplements include headache and tingling of the arms and legs. 500 milligrams twice daily for twelve weeks has been shown to be safe. The safety of larger amounts or long-term use is unknown.
This herb can inhibit the body's ability to produce histamine. Nettle can be taken in the form of capsules. According to studies, most people found relief taking about 300 mg per day. Drinking nettle tea three times a day can also help. Possible side effects include stomach complaints and sweating.
Omega-3, an essential fatty acid with many health benefits, can help fight inflammation associated with ragweed allergies. According to a German study, people who ate foods high in omega-3 were less likely to have allergy symptoms. Foods high in omega-3 include cold-water fish (such as salmon, herring, and tuna), flaxseed oil, and walnuts. You can also take supplements as directed. Possible side effects from taking supplements include heartburn, belching, bad breath, nausea, loose stools, and nosebleeds.
Neti pots have been used for thousands of years in India. These little pots, filled with saltwater, are used to rinse away allergens from the nasal passages.
Before using the above ragweed allergy remedies, it is best to consult with your health care provider, especially if you have a medical condition or are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking medications, or giving to a child.
- slide 3 of 4
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: Ragweed Allergy - http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=19&cont=267
Web MD: Allergy Medications - http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/allergy-medications
Mother Earth News: Six Natural Allergy Remedies - http://www.motherearthnews.com/Natural-Health/2006-08-01/Six-Natural-Allergy-Remedies.aspx?page=4
Web MD: Quercetin - http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-294-QUERCETIN.aspx?activeIngredientId=294&activeIngredientName=QUERCETIN
- slide 4 of 4
Image courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woman_sneezing.jpg