Winter was a dud for many of in Canada this year, and now spring has moved in fast. But with that quick warm-up, many species of trees are budding at the same time – leading to a spring allergy sufferer’s worst nightmare: pollen.
Trees now releasing pollen include maple, elm, juniper and poplar. Birch is expected to start later this month, which is also when the season is expected to peak. People with pollen allergies are usually the first to be able to tell you that the trees are a-budding because they get itchy in the eyes, nose and the roof of the mouth.
So allergists from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology have come up with a list of tips for seasonal allergy sufferers to weather this “perfect storm” of pollen. They say that although this spring is bad, there’s no reason to suffer, because there’s relief available.
“In addition to over-the-counter medications, relief options include immunotherapy, allergy testing and vaccine and prescription medications,” points out allergist Dr. Sami Bahna, president of the ACAAI, in a recent news release.
If you want to go take care of it yourself, you may be interested to know that a recent survey commissioned by the ACAAI found that eight in 10 patients reported that self-medication fell short of being “very effective.”
But the survey found that those who had seen an allergist were nearly three times more likely to say their treatment was effective compared to those who took over-the-counter medicine.
The ACAAI recommends that allergy sufferers first learn their triggers.
Many may think they know that pollen is causing their suffering, but other substances may be involved as well. An allergist can help find the source of the suffering and stop it, not just treat the symptoms.
Here are their other tips:
• Monitor pollen and mould counts. Here’s The Weather Network’s Pollen Report, for example.
• Keep windows and doors shut at home during allergy season as well as the windows in your car.
• Take a shower, wash hair and change clothing after being outdoors working or playing.
• Wear a mask when doing outdoor chores like mowing the lawn. An allergist can help you find the type of mask that works best.
One of the most effective ways to treat pollen allergies is with immunotherapy, the ACAAI adds.
“These injections slowly introduce a little bit of what causes your allergy, so your body learns to tolerate it rather than react with sneezing, a stuffy nose or itchy, watery eyes,” the group says.