Based on allergist Donald Dvorin's historical data, ragweed pollen can be expected to flood the air in the Delaware Valley in the next few weeks.

"Ragweed pollen tripled in the last 24 hours," says  Dvorin. "It has definitely arrived. I took this picture of a ragweed in bloom on my walk last evening."

Here are three key steps now to keep from suffering (and sneezing) through the fall allergy season.

  1. Implement your personal Allergy Action Plan now.

    This is one of the most important things you can do to be sure that you take your allergy and asthma medications before your symptoms start (including the use of intranasal corticosteroid sprays)

    For current patients of The Asthma Center, if you have not reviewed your Allergy Action Plan with one of our board certified allergists in the last three months, schedule your appointment now.
  2. Know your level of ragweed pollen sensitivity and monitor ragweed pollen levels.

    To find out if you are allergic to ragweed, call now to schedule Allergy Skin Testing, which is one of the most reliable methods to determine allergy sensitivity, particularly when correlated with your personal history.

    Be sure to Subscribe to receive The Asthma Center daily pollen counts direct to your inbox.

    Check back in to read The Asthma Center's latest blog posts to learn more about ragweed, how it can affect you, and what you can do about it.
  3. Reduce your exposure to ragweed pollen

    Wear long sleeves and long pants when mowing the grass.

    Sleep with windows closed and drive with windows up.

    Beware of tracking grass pollen into your home (kids, pets especially, newspaper sleeves, and on shorts and jackets).

    Shower and wash your hair after extended outdoor exposure.

    Wear sunglasses or glasses outdoors to limit exposure of pollen to your eyes.

    Avoid wearing contact lenses, or switch to daily disposable contacts to avoid allergens building up on the lenses.

    Wash your hands and face frequently, including eyebrows.

    Change your pillowcase often.

    Be sure to download Allergies & Asthma Travel Tips 101 for tips on reducing your exposure to ragweed pollen while on vacation.

Ragweed 411

Ragweed pollen is considered the biggest trigger of fall allergy and asthma symptoms because of its "numbers":

  • The number of people with ragweed pollen allergy: The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology estimated in 2011 that 1 in 10 Americans have ragweed allergy.
  • The number of ragweed plants: There are 17 varieties of ragweed. Ragweed blankets most of the U.S. sparing only the southernmost tip of Florida, Northern Maine, and the northern West Coast.
  • The number of ragweed pollen grains in the air: It is estimated that a single ragweed plant can produce up to 1 billion grains of pollen.

The Tuesday report:

Trees: Very Low
Grasses: Low
Ragweed:
Moderate
Other Weeds:
Moderate
Outdoor Mold Spores:
Very High

Predominant allergen(s):
Ragweed & Outdoor Mold Spores

Donald Dvorin, MD, is the Philadelphia region's official pollen counter.