Ambrosia allergy: symptoms, what to do?

Ambrosia allergy symptoms what to do

Ambrosia pollens increase in power in September. They are highly allergenic, a few grains per cubic meter of air are enough to trigger an allergy. Symptoms and advice from our allergist.

Ambrosia artemisiifoliaLmugwort ambrosia, commonly known as ragweed, is a member of the Compositae family, Asteraceae. “Its pollen is highly allergenic, particularly aggressive and asthmogenic”, which causes and promotes asthma, says Dr. Sophie Silcret-Grieu, allergist. “It only takes 5 grains of pollen per cubic meter of air to trigger the allergy. And we know that ragweed pollen is emitted in large quantities: an adult plant can release up to 2.5 billion pollen grains and there can be, during certain periods of unfavorable weather (dry weather, heat, south wind), more than 100 times this rate in the air that patients inhale. 6 to 12% of the exposed population are allergic to ragweed“explains Dr. Bruno Faure specialist in this plant for theStop Ambrosia Association. In addition, its pollen grains are small in size. They thus have the ability to stay longer in the atmosphere and can travel greater distances since they are small and light.

What is the period of ragweed allergy?

The plant germinates from the beginning of April. The seeds are formed from the mid-August until the end of October: this is when it releases its pollen, with a peak around mid-August and until September, sometimes until the first weeks of October. Allergic reactions and respiratory discomfort in sensitive people are immediate and directly linked to the amount of pollen present in the air. THE pollen is mainly emitted in the middle of the night, dispersed by the wind. The rain, on the contrary, tends to flatten the pollen grains on the ground.

Ambrosia photo (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) © 123rf-spring75

What are the symptoms ?

The symptoms are those of seasonal allergic rhinitis“says Dr. Sophie Silcret-Grieu:

  • stuffy nose,
  • sneezing,
  • runny nose
  • itching
  • sometimes also seasonal allergic conjunctivitis : red eyes that sting and swell, with a feeling of sand in the eyes

In some very sensitive people, the small pollens can penetrate into the bronchi, and cause asthma attacks : a decrease in breath, bronchial wheezing, a persistent cough often nocturnal, with the risk of severe asthma attacks and oedema. The allergic reaction is all the more rapid as the allergen is asthmogenic. More rarely, there may be skin problems : hives, eczema, but also intense fatigue, difficulty sleeping. All these reactions are aggravated by the wind (particularly the southerly wind), but improved by the rain which causes the pollen to fall on the ground. Allergic reactions are greater outdoors than indoors and the higher the pollen count, the more allergic reactions occur.

“People allergic to ragweed pollen can also be allergic to melon”

What to do ?

► Take your treatment well : “Patients with asthma and allergies to ragweed pollen, as to other allergens, must continue their basic treatment more than ever, emphasizes the allergist doctor. Above all, the background treatment should not be interrupted. : THE inhalers but also oral antihistamines, which limit the release of histamine in the body. “They are advised to be vigilant to their allergic reaction and to consult a doctor who can increase the treatment.“, if needed.

► Beware of cross allergies: Cross-allergy is a reaction to one substance while the person is sensitized to another chemically related substance. “Cross allergies to pollens and fruits are surprising, such as birch pollen which gives cross allergies to stone and pome fruits. People allergic to ragweed pollen have possible cross allergies with melonbecause of their common protein” emphasizes Dr. Silcret-Grieu, but also banana and watermelon. However, “the protein involved is destroyed when the fruit is cooked.”

What are the treatments ?

Effective medical treatments exist. Allergists prescribe during the season: antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, bronchodilators, or as preventives: specific desensitization, starting a few months before the season. One of the characteristics of ambrosia is to very frequently require higher doses of treatment than other allergens (spring pollen, for example) or having to combine the two types of treatment (desensitization and drug treatments), according to Dr. Faure.

Beware of essential oils

Essential oils (HE) are generally not recommended for allergy sufferers and asthmatics. Allergists fear their uses, for their “risk of generating allergies“says Dr. Silcret-Grieu, while”certain essential oils can be interesting” recognizes the doctor. However, it is necessary be advised by an aromatherapy specialist. Françoise Couic-Marinier Doctor of Pharmacy and trainer in aromatherapy recommends “breathe in an HE blend of tarragon and roman chamomile. In case of crisis: put under the tongue with a little honey a drop of Roman chamomile HE and clean the eyes with anti-allergic and soothing blueberry hydrosol.

“A “miracle” product exists for prevention: allergyl from Laboratoire Gilbert”

Françoise Couic-Marinier, expert in essential oil has “A “miracle” product exists for prevention: allergyl from Laboratoire Gilbert, a very gentle product that creates a natural barrier in the nose to stop the introduction of pollen and their inhalation.“Furthermore, it is recommended during periods of heavy circulation of pollen from”wash your hair after going outto ventilate your home early in the morning or late in the evening, and to rinse your nose, with physiological saline for example” says the allergist doctor.

Thanks to Dr Sophie Silcret-Grieu, allergist doctor in Paris, and to Françoise Couic-Marinier, Dr in pharmacy and trainer in aromatherapy and phytotherapy