Canadian Lung Association Blog

Season’s Sneezings : April showers bring May flowers

For most people, spring time is a time of the year when we shed winter coats and breathe in the long-forgotten smells of budding flowers and trees. But almost a quarter of Canadians suffers from allergies in the spring that make this time of the year difficult to enjoy.

Jaimie Peters is a Registered Nurse and Certified Respiratory Educator with the Canadian Lung Association’s Helpline. She shares her tips on dealing with seasonal allergies.

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What causes springtime allergies?

Most spring allergies are caused by pollens that are released from grass, trees, and flowers. Spring allergies cause hay fever, otherwise known as allergic rhinitis.

Is it possible to be allergic only to certain types of pollen?

You can be allergic to one or more types of pollen; an allergy doctor can help to identify which pollens you may be allergic to.

How can those with spring time allergies minimize the effects of spring pollen?

It is difficult to stay away from all pollen but you can take some steps to minimize the effects of pollen such as keeping buildings and car windows closed as much as possible and staying inside when pollens are high.  Using air conditioning can also be helpful to decrease exposure to pollen.  The Weather Network provides local pollen counts so you can monitor when specific pollens may affect you more.

What behaviours can those with allergies adopt to minimize the severity of their allergies?

Allergic rhinitis can affect the whole body and greatly impact a person’s life causing missed days of work or school, disturbed sleep, anxiety, and increased healthcare use.  People with asthma often suffer from allergic rhinitis which can lead to loss of asthma control.  Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:

  • Prolonged stuffy, runny nose
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Mouth-breathing
  • Cough
  • Sinusitis
  • Increased asthma symptoms.

Saline rinses can be very helpful to treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, have minimal side effects, and can be purchased at your local pharmacy without a prescription.  The next step in managing spring allergies is speaking with your local pharmacist or CRE to find the best antihistamine (allergy medication) for you.  An antihistamine can be purchased without a prescription and works rapidly to give you relief, and when taken regularly, this relief can be maintained.  If the antihistamine does not work, there are other prescribed medication options such as inhaled nasal corticosteroids, leukotriene receptor agonists, or immunotherapy that can be discussed with your prescriber.

Spring allergies can be a tough time of year for many people, but there are options to decrease your discomfort or suffering.

For more information, call our Helpline: 1-888-566-5864.

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