Public Service

Ragweed Sucker-Punch

I developed seasonal allergies as an adult.  I didn’t even know that could happen, so I had no idea what was going on.  I figured it out one day when I was feeling sorry for myself, thinking “What the hell is wrong with me?  I’m snotty and sneezing and my eyes itch …  Holy crap, I sound like an allergy commercial.”  I’ve since heard that this isn’t uncommon for people who move to the southeast.  The actual statistic I heard was that 75% of the people who move to Georgia who don’t have allergies will develop them within five years, but I haven’t been able to find any documentation to prove that.  If you trust anecdotal evidence, 75% totally accurate.

pollen from pine tree
You can see it in the air!

I’ve learned a lot about allergens since joining the afflicted.  Around here, when the pine trees pollinate we enter “the season of things turning yellow.”  There is so much pollen in the air, you can watch the air currents.  I have lost my car in a parking lot because it was a different color when I came out of the store than it was when I went in.  Naturally, I assumed it was the reason I was feeling so miserable.  I was amazed to find out that it’s not.  The reason pine pollen is so visible is because the granules are so big.  Because they are so big, they don’t really get into the nooks and crannies that cause allergies.  I do still believe that pine pollen is an irritant, but it’s more like the respiratory irritation you would get from breathing a lot of dust or smoke.  The real culprits for allergies are grass pollen and ragweed.  Grass, especially, blooms at the same time as the pine trees and the pollen is so teeny-tiny that you don’t see it.

We all know what grass looks like, so no surprise there, but I had no idea what ragweed looks like.  For some reason, I thought it looked like goldenrod.  The only reason I can think of for this is that people react to ragweed with the same abhorrence that my father reserves for goldenrod.  Anyway, not too long ago my neighbor pointed out some ragweed in his yard.  I looked at the little plant he was pointing at and said “Wait, you mean that’s ragweed?  I have a ton of this shit in my yard!”  I am not exaggerating when I say that it was a total “The phone call was coming from inside the house!” moment.  I felt so betrayed.  Somehow I assumed that there were huge tracts of ragweed miles away that let their pollen blow over my house.  To find out that I was harboring these little bastards was a total sucker-punch.

So, as a public service, I am posting some pictures of ragweed so that you can know your enemy and do something about it.

Ragweed when it has grown big and strong
Ragweed when it is small and innocuous.
This is goldenrod. Not Ragweed.

Pine Pollen photo by Beatriz moisset, via Wikimedia Commons, all other photos are public domain.

By [E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at if you're interested in checking it out.

13 replies on “Ragweed Sucker-Punch”

I’m in the Midwest. Goldenrod doesn’t phase me, my mild allergy to cats is not a problem, I grew up a healthy, thriving country girl, immune to the powers of mold, pollen, and dander. I was so proud.

Then I moved to the city. Now I get allergy attacks in the winter. I am currently suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. I lose my voice two to three times a year, I can only assume because of all the disgusting stuff I’m inhaling. I get sick a LOT. NONE of this happened to me before. I can only conclude that I am allergic to the city.

Not quite the same as developing an honest-to-god allergy as an adult, but I feel your pain with the sudden onset of a previously unknown malady. It sucks.

Now I know why i have super bad :COLD: in the blossoming months here… That plant that I thought was something else grows about 7′ tall right under my bedroom window under my air conditioner. I know what to remove right away…(or have my manservants remove)

I’m in GA too. True story: yesterday I went on a bike ride, and my eyes began to water, and I started sneezing. It got so bad that I literally could not see and had to pull over on the side of the road. I got my eyes clear enough to ride back home but the whole time I was hocking some pretty nasty loogies and sneezing up a storm. I’ve never had seasonal allergies before. I have mild asthma, but that’s about it. Looks like after 29 years the pollen finally got me.

I’m originally from North Carolina, so I thought I knew what pollen is like. I found out what pollen for real is like when I spent a year in grad school in Charleston, South Carolina. Holy shit, the pollen season lasted from March to October.

I remember walking down the street one evening to class clutching my chest because I couldn’t breathe. The humidiy combined with the pollen in the air was like a weight directly over my lungs, and I truly felt like I was suffocating. It felt my lungs couldn’t inflate! Going to class in a fluorscent-lit basement was like heaven because there were no windows for that pollen-filled air to seep through!

I had to take Benadryl every single day just to feel semi-normal and my eyes itched all the time. I don’t know which kind of pollen was the real problem, though, because it was always around. I imagine GA is very similar to SC. I shudder for you.

Ragweed is one of the things I’m most allergic to too. I’ve never actually seen any, that I can recall, and I took allergy shots for about ten years and that combined with nasal spray and an OTC decongestant has helped tremendously. I still occasionally get stuffy and itchy around triggers, but it’s much better. I’m curious to see if things will change if/when I find a job in another state – I’ve lived in various parts of Ohio my whole life, and I’m curious to see if things change for me then.

Ragweed kills me! I already have bad sinuses but when you add that on top of it, death.
I have to combat it with 24 hour decongestant pills that you have to get from the pharmacist, nose spray and staying inside. The side effects suck but I’d rather deal with them than with the ragweed.

I feel your pain. I’ve suffered thru allergies all my life, but they got really bad when I moved from Jersey to Virginia for college. One day I called my mom crying “Mom, I feel awful. And it’s snowing green things!”

I’m currently a mess, trying to figure out the right cocktail to ease my pain. Oddly enuf, over the counter Rite-Aid brand “Zyrtec” works better for me than real Zyrtec. Go figure.

Yours in sniffles and ichy eyes,

The cocktail I have found works best for me is Loratadine (Claritin) and one Advil Cold & Sinus a day (the real stuff that you have to get from the pharmacy counter and promise not to make meth with). I need the antihistamine with a little bit of decongestant and anti-inflammatory to make me feel human.

I talked to a pharmacist about it once and I found out they don’t like it any better than we do. I hadn’t thought about it from their perspective before, but it makes them take time out from their real work to play meth police. Once I stopped blaming the pharmacy, I had more patience for the process (though it still sucks).

The only allergy medication that has ever worked well for me is generic Benadryl. Like, the 100-count for $4 kind. And I’ve tried EVERYTHING. It doesn’t help that I have seasonal allergies EVERY DAMN SEASON. Mold, dust, ragweed, pollen, dander, spores, grass, you name it, I’m allergic.

Leave a Reply