Stupid Allergies

One of the benefits of being retired has been a much more active lifestyle.  Instead of spending most of my time inside, we are riding the tandem, taking hikes, and spending a much higher percentage of our day outside.  The only problem with this is my stupid allergies.  The allergies started with “hay fever“, an allergy to grass pollens.  Gradually my allergies have grown to include problems with grass oils and any kind of pollen.  Consequently I am also allergic to any scents that have flower or plant oils in them.  I can avoid most of the scents, but the pollens are another matter, especially when we spend a lot of time outside.


Ragweed is a special problem for most allergy sufferers, and I am no exception.  After the cool, wet summer, the ragweed is having a great time this September.  It is very healthy and growing especially well along the bike trails and hiking trails we have been frequenting.  Of course, we have had very little rain during September, so the ragweed pollen has been particularly dense.

Goldenrod is not the culprit for hay fever
Goldenrod is not the culprit for hay fever

Here are some fascinating facts about ragweed.  Many people think that goldenrod is the source of hay fever allergies.  It is not.  Goldenrod blooms at the same time and in the same places as ragweed, and is a lot more visible and showy.  So people tend to blame the goldenrod for their allergic reactions.  Ragweed is smaller, shorter, and hides well among the goldenrod.  Ragweed doesn’t have flowers that you would notice – but it is very good at releasing pollen. Each ragweed plant can produce up to a BILLION grains of pollen!  The ragweed pollen have little spurs that embed themselves in nasal passages and cause inflammation, sneezing, and excess mucus production.  Yuck.  75% of the people who are allergic to pollen are allergic to ragweed pollen.

Ragweed pollen - see the barbs?
Ragweed pollen – see the barbs?

Ragweed pollen has its highest density in the air from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., exactly the time we have been outside hiking or riding our bike.  So there have been several days when I was having a hard time breathing by the time we finished riding.  Mostly, however, I just sound (and feel) like I have a cold – all the time.  But I’m taking my allergy medicine and dealing with it the best I can.  Tom suffers from it too, so it doesn’t do any good for either of us to complain.

Oh well.  I’m not going to give up riding and enjoying my time outside because of my stupid allergies.  So far September has been spectacular and I’m not going to miss out on anything.  Sneezing, stuffiness, and watery eyes are a small price to pay for getting to spend so much time enjoying my life and celebrating what God has created.  I’m just especially thankful for air-conditioning at the end of the day.

  • Nancy

    I take Zyrtec every night at bed time and have some BePreve eye drops that help me a lot during high pollen times of the year. I haven’t had any negative side effects while taking the medicine HOWEVER when I don’t take it, I do notice that my skin will itch. I take it year round, just less at different times.

    • Karen

      I take Claritin D which is one of those over-the-counter but controlled substances which means I can only buy 30 of them a month – even if the month has 31 days! They work well but it is a pain to get them every 15 days.