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Are you allergic to your city?

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Tuesday, June 9th 2020, 5:30 am - Here are the top 5 Canadian cities for tree and grass pollen sufferers

You dreamt of spring during the bitter cold months but now that it’s here, you may be itching for the season to pass as quickly as possible.

The flowering trees are blooming and lawns are a cheery green, but instead of smiling all you’re doing is sniffling, sneezing and reaching for a tissue.

For seasonal allergy sufferers, it’s enough to make you want to leave town for less pollen-packed areas – and for good! You may just be allergic to your city, especially if you suffer from grass and tree allergies and you live in Victoria, BC and cities in Southern Ontario like Brampton, Barrie, London and Windsor.

“You don’t need to move! There are very effective treatments available” to treat annoying symptoms, says Dr. Susan Waserman, Professor of Medicine and Division Director of Clinical Immunology and Allergy at McMaster University.

Runny noses and itchy eyes can be treated so you can venture outdoors and enjoy your backyard, but there are some cities in Canada that are better than others to live in if you have certain allergies.

“The best cities are clearly going to depend on what you are allergic to,” says Waserman.

Here’s where you’re wishing you were – the best cities to live in based on grass season, according to pollen expert Dawn Jurgens, director of operations at Aerobiology Research Laboratories in Ottawa.

  • Saint John, NB has the shortest grass season with the fewest High days and no Very High pollen grass count. The season lasts around 116 days.
  • Halifax has no High and Very High days but the season is slightly longer.
  • Calgary hosts the longest season at around 130 days but only one or two days of High levels of grass.
  • Regina is great for allergy sufferers of both grass and tree pollen. It’s a shorter grass season than Calgary by a couple of days but with a few more days at High levels.
  • St. John’s, NF is comparable to Regina, but has the most High days of the top five cities.

Top 5 best cities to live in if you have tree allergies, according to Jurgens:

  • St. John’s, NF has consistently had the shortest tree pollen season over the past 10 years, with the fewest pollen-packed days in the Very High and High level ranges. The main tree pollen types here are Alder, Pine, Birch and Oak.
  • Charlottetown is similar to St. John’s with a short season, but has double the amount of high days compared to St. John’s. Count on approximately 30 days on average in High to Very High range. Main tree pollen types are Pine, Birch, Alder, Poplar and Maple.
  • Regina has good and bad news – it has the shortest season of all the top five cities but it has three times more High to Very High levels days than top spot St. John’s. Most common tree culprits include Elm, Oak, Maple and Birch.
  • Edmonton comes in fourth – it has a longer season than the top three cities but roughly 37 days of High to Very High days, comparable to Regina. Common tree offenders are Pine, Alder, Birch, Poplar and Maple.
  • Saint John, NB is a lot like Edmonton. The season is a few days shorter on average than Edmonton but has approximately seven to eight days more in the High to Very High levels for pollen.

Weeds can also be an allergy sufferer’s nightmare. Saint John, NB and St. John’s, NF appear in the top five places to live if your allergies sprout in tree and grass seasons, and the same goes for weed season. Other great places to live if you want to escape weed allergies are Halifax, Edmonton and Fredericton, according to Jurgens.

Meanwhile, wherever you live, allergy sufferers can get relief for mild to moderate symptoms with over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal steroids, adds Waserman. “If they’re not resolved, speak to your family doctor and ask for an allergy referral. Any immunotherapy requires an allergy referral for skin testing first.”

Allergies can be a problem no matter where you live in Canada. Even better-than-average cities don’t guarantee that you’ll breathe easier and sneeze less. Allergies, especially seasonal allergies to trees and grass, can develop at any time in adulthood, and even if you decide to move, you may end up developing sensitivity to another troublesome allergen.

Wherever you are, the best thing to do when allergy season comes around is to check the pollen count daily, and treat symptoms accordingly.

This article is based on an interview conducted by The Weather Network with Dr. Susan Waserman, Professor of Medicine and Division Director, Clinical Immunology and Allergy at McMaster University.

This article is based on an interview conducted by The Weather Network with Dawn Jurgens, director of operations at Aerobiology Research Laboratories in Ottawa.

Thumbnail image source: Getty Images

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