How to Prepare for Autumn Ragweed Allergies

Spring is the season that comes to mind when one thinks of plant allergies. But late summer/early fall is primetime for ragweed allergies that can put a damper on work life and fun time.

Ragweed begins to release its pollen in mid to late August and it really ramps up in September, often lasting through early October. Ragweed doesn’t need to be near the allergic individual for it to launch its circus of symptoms; its pollen spreads quickly and far -- it has been detected 400 miles out to sea, and two miles up in the atmosphere.

Ragweed pollens tend to affect individuals who are also allergic to other common outdoor allergens such as such as nettles, molds, cedar elm and sorrel mugwort, among others. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), approximately 75% of people who have pollen allergies in spring will be sensitive to ragweed pollen, too. In late summer (and peaking in September) about 15% of Americans exhibit the symptoms of ragweed pollen allergy. One ragweed plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains.

Researchers found that even a small amount of pollen (a total of 180 pollen grains) is sufficient to produce an allergic reaction, much less than the high pollen concentrations found in the air during the seasonal flowering period (springtime). 1

The AAFA noted that this type of allergic response is called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). Interestingly, OAS “is the result of a confused immune system.” Ragweed pollens are structurally similar to proteins in some fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. And those with OAS will also likely have sensitivities to these foods.

Symptoms of autumn plant pollen allergies include sneezing, postnasal drip, stuffy and runny nose, and itchy, tired, and dry eyes. On top of eyes that are already weary from gazing at screens for hours, dry eyes worsened by allergies often requires immediate attention. Eye drops/artificial tears provide a temporary solution for some immediate relief.

How to Support Dry Eyes

A dietary supplement blending the eye carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin with curcuminoids (the active ingredients in turmeric) and vitamin D, may help you manage dry eye throughout the entire year.

In a study, 59 adults took one capsule of the supplement every day for 8 weeks. The researchers looked at how taking the supplement would affect eye hydration (tears), severity of dry eye and the need for using artificial tears. The number of participants who relied on use of artificial tears dropped in half by the end of the study as did the number of times artificial tears were used during the day in those who took the capsule. Individuals in the supplement group said that they were feeling the positive effects on their eyes in as little as two weeks.

How to Minimize Ragweed Allergies

If you do deal with ragweed and other autumn plant allergies (including molds), there are steps you can take that will help reduce the exposure. Below are some tips from an allergy specialist.

You may not think that indoors the allergies can’t get you, but they can. There are ways, however, that can minimize their power. Your heating system should preferably have a HEPA filter (high-efficiency particulate air filter), which does a great job of trapping pollens, molds and other airborne allergens. Check and change the filter regularly as it will be accumulating the particles that instigate allergies.

Even as September’s weather cools down, keep windows closed, and also keep your home’s humidity between 35% and 50% using a dehumidifier if necessary. Also, carpeting may feel somewhat snuggly, but it can harbor a multitude of nasties, including pollen that hitched a ride on shoes and clothes.

If you have trees that lose their leaves in the autumn and you brush them into a pile, be wary that molds love to grow in leaf piles. Rake them and bag them up.

Additionally, it is easy to monitor pollen counts as there are several resources, such as, which provides continual updates on its allergy tracker. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the early morning, and days that are warm, dry and windy can be rough on those with ragweed and other autumnal plant allergies.

You already have been primed to wash hands thoroughly and often, thanks to practicing COVID hygiene -- but it helps here too as pollen is naturally sticky and will adhere to your fingers and palms if you touch something coated with it.


Ragweed pollen “storms” may be unavoidable, thanks to Mother Nature. Some OTC products help manage symptom intensity, but so can prepping and cleaning your home. Enjoy your September!

1 Liu, et al. “Influence of the environment on ragweed pollen and their sensitizing capacity in a mouse model of allergic lung inflammation” Frontiers in Allergy 2022 Aug

OMNITRIVIA: There are 17 species of ragweed in the United States (Source)