What is a ragweed pollen allergy and how can you treat it?

Ragweed

What is a ragweed pollen allergy and how can you treat it?

When summer arrives, we might have a new problem to contend with. The invasive ragweed is set to cause havoc for hay fever sufferers. Allergies are bad enough in the summer, but an estimated 13.5 million people across Europe will have trouble thanks to the ragweed’s pollen.

It isn’t a species native to our continent, so where did it come from? How will it affect your allergies? And could a non-native beetle be the answer to reducing the amount of ragweed?

What is ragweed?

Ragweed comes from North America and has somehow found its way over to Europe. It can now be found in 30 European countries, including here in the UK. Its pollen can trigger hay fever reactions such as sneezing and itchy eyes, even going as far as aggravating other conditions, such as eczema and asthma.

It thrives in the summer as the ideal conditions are cool nights and warm, dry days. We might not get many of those over here, but there’s still plenty of opportunities for them to do their damage.

Depending on the conditions, it can carry through to September and has even been known to drag on through to November in the USA. That is less likely to happen here, but the idea of pollen allergies sticking around in autumn and winter is not something many want to entertain.

The North American ragweed leaf beetle

New research suggests the answer to the ragweed problem is the aptly named ragweed leaf beetle. It comes from the same continent as the ragweed itself, and their appetite for its pollen can reduce symptoms in millions of people.

If their model is correct, researchers predict the beetle could reduce the number of people affected from 13.5 million to 11.2 million. This would also help reduce the estimated cost on our healthcare systems – it costs £6.5 billion per year.

They are already trialling using the beetle in Italy but don’t expect it to happen here quickly. Introducing foreign species into a new ecosystem is always a risk that needs assessing. Australia is already a country that has decided against this course of action. Another mark against us is our climate; the beetle thrives in warmer temperatures so they might not survive here.

If you have hay-fever-like allergies this summer, it might be the ragweed. To fight off the symptoms, you can follow many of the same tips we’ve given for hay fever in the past. You can also use the same anti-allergy medication too. As always, check with your doctor before you try any new medication.

Whether it’s hay fever, ragweed pollen, or any other allergy, the symptoms are never fun. They can be a drag on your life and ruin your mood. Don’t let your allergies control you – get in touch with us today to talk to a professional allergist.

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