For Immediate Release
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
Agony of Ragweed Allergy Season May be Exacerbated
By Consumption of Some Fruits and Use of Products with Camomile
As the remaining weeks
of summer wind down, you may notice large, leafy plants that grow
abundantly in sidewalk cracks and other areas, such as backyards.
The arrival of ragweed
season unofficially begins by mid-August and extends through much
of the fall season, until the first frost begins to kill the pollen-emitting
plants. If you are allergic to ragweed, you may be surprised to
learn that some fruits, cosmetics and herbal tea are cousins of
this wild weed and may also trigger the same annoying effects, said
Dr. Leonard Bielory, director of the Asthma and Allergy Research
Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
(UMDNJ)-New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
"Honeydew melon, cantaloupe,
bananas and camomile, an herb found in some teas and cosmetic products,
are related to ragweed and contain many of the same ingredients
that contribute to sneezing, coughing, congestion, running noses,
headaches, irritated eyes and sometimes wheezing," Dr. Bielory said.
"If you are allergic to ragweed, these items may exacerbate your
hay fever symptoms and may contribute to the 'oral allergy' syndrome
by making your palate itch."
These particular fruits,
camomile and ragweed are known as "cross-reactors" because they
contain common proteins found in plants of the same botanical family,
he added. Eliminating exposure to them will help allergy sufferers
control some of the symptoms associated with ragweed.
Dr. Bielory noted that
the best way to avoid ragweed pollen is to stay inside as much as
possible. Don't exercise outdoors during the day when pollen levels
are highest; cut the grass and trim the shrubs in the early evening.
When engaging in yard work, consider wearing goggles and a dust
mask. "Ragweed sufferers also should keep their home and car windows
closed and use air conditioners and air purifiers to minimize exposure
to pollen," Dr. Bielory said.
Those with hay fever
should also shower before going to bed to avoid bringing the pollen
into bed, and those with pets should wipe their furs clean when
they come inside the home in the evening.
To arrange an interview
with Dr. Bielory, call Tom Capezzuto of the UMDNJ News Service at
(973) 972-7273. For information regarding daily pollen counts, call
UMDNJ's pollen count hotline at (973) 972-6518.