Expired News - Allergies: Mid-season check in - The Weather Network
Your weather when it really mattersTM


Please choose your default site


Asia - Pacific



Allergies: Mid-season check in

Joanne Richard
Special to The Weather Network

Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 6:30 AM - Rain, rain, go away...because it’s making it a whole lot worse for allergy sufferers.

Some areas across Canada have seen their fair share of rainy days and that typically means higher pollen counts overall and a worse tree and grass season than last year, says Dr. David Fischer, president of Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI).

"Rain is a double-edged sword - it encourages plant growth, and thus higher pollen counts with worsened symptoms overall on non-rainy days," says Fischer. "But the large amount of rain may spell relief on the individual days that it’s raining."

Rain or shine, what’s to come for allergy sufferers depends on the weather in the next while. The worst days will combine heat, humidity and high winds, says Fischer, adding that, typically, grass pollen season will finish by the end of July and usually there is a reprieve before the beginning of ragweed season.

For places that have had a large amount of rain, it will likely mean higher levels of ragweed pollen than usual. 

“The other major determining factor is the timing of the first good hard frost. If that comes early there could be some much needed relief," Fischer says.

While only time and weather will tell what’s in store for ragweed sufferers, the ragweed season does kick off in about two weeks and, thankfully, levels should stay low until sometime in August, says allergist Dr. Susan Waserman.

That’s welcomed relief but in the meantime symptoms experienced over the next month will depend on the allergy sufferer’s particular allergies. While the types and amount of pollen are dependent on the plants in the local environment where one lives, along with temperature and moisture, Waserman says it’s also important to remember that moulds and house dust mites can rise in the summer as well.

So far the spring pollen season had very high levels of tree pollen in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. 

“In Hamilton/Toronto specifically the total tree pollen was the highest yield for all trees since sampling started there in 2001,” adds Waserman, who is a professor in the Division of Allergy/Clinical Immunology at McMaster University in Hamilton

Meanwhile, allergy sufferers can breathe easier: Having spring/summer allergies does not dictate sneezing and sniffling through the fall. While often people who are allergy prone will develop allergy to all the pollens and have symptoms in the spring summer and fall, there are people however who will only have allergy to one or two pollens and have more limited seasons.

You can be allergic to pollens in any combination - trees and grass, grass and ragweed, trees and ragweed - or to individual pollens only, so there is no specific reason that someone having spring/summer allergies will also have fall allergies, adds Fischer, who is an adjunct professor at Western University.

Allergists agree that medications are often necessary for complete relief of symptoms, and that includes adding antihistamines to your allergy-fighting arsenal. Many non-drowsy choices are available over-the-counter, says Waserman, adding that there are two new ones available by prescription, Blexten (Bilastine) and Rupall (Rupatidine), which treat symptoms such as itchy, runny nose, and itchy, runny eyes, but are less effective for nasal stuffiness.

Nasal steroid sprays are recommended for battling nasal congestion. Ideally, start about two weeks before the start of the season and use daily until the end of the season, advises Waserman. Nasal sprays must be used correctly to obtain the best results: Point the spray away from midline bridge of the nose. If they are not used correctly, they can cause dryness and nasal bleeding.

“Two nasal steroid sprays are now available - OTC Nasacort and Flonase Allergy Relief - are the same as was by prescription,” adds Waserman. In addition, eye drops can help relieve annoying symptoms of itchy, watery eyes.

If taking medication(s) and avoiding likely causes do not ease your symptoms, see your doctor and ask to see an allergist. Allergy skin testing is important to identify the allergen(s) which causes your symptoms. An allergist may discuss allergy shots, which can be very effective, especially for pollen and house dust mite allergy. “Allergists are important for diagnosis and optimal treatment. It may not be what you think - it may be a pet or other allergen in your environment,” says Waserman.

For seasonal allergies, consider planning for next year now! 

“If a patient sees an allergist, he/she could put together a program of immunotherapy - either traditional ‘allergy shots’ or newer sublingual (under the tongue) allergy tablets - to help for the following year,” adds Fischer.

[Thumbnail credit]

Default saved

Search Location


Sign In

Please sign in to use this feature.