What Are Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergic rhinitis affects millions of people worldwide. Symptoms include sneezing, stuffiness, a runny nose and itchiness in your nose, the roof of your mouth, throat, eyes or ears. These allergic reactions are most commonly caused by pollen and mold spores in the air, which start a chain reaction in your immune system. Outdoor allergens are produced by plants, trees, grass and weeds. Pollen, the most common outdoor allergen, is lightweight and can easily become airborne.
Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. For instance, if you have an allergy to pollen, the immune system identifies pollen as an invader or allergen. Your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.
What Are The Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies, or seasonal allergic rhinitis is also commonly called hay fever. The main symptoms include:
- Watery, or itchy eyes,
- Nasal congestion, and/or
- Dripping, or runny nose.
Outdoor Allergies: Key Allergy Seasons
Up to twenty-five percent of Canadians suffer from hay fever. Allergens and pollens can be in the air from early spring and goes until the end of summer or beginning of Autumn. Allergy season will be different for each person depending on which pollens are triggering the symptoms.
Tree pollen. Trees start to shed their pollen in early spring to summer. It is more prevalent in cities like Vancouver which have a high concentration of trees and an earlier start to spring due to the warmer climate. The alder and birch trees in particular are prolific pollinators that produce strong allergens.
Weed pollen is most abundant from late summer to early fall, and often peaks in mid-September.
Ragweed season begins in late summer and lasts until the first frost. It is possible to be allergic to both trees and grasses.
Tips For Managing Your Seasonal Allergies
- Check pollen counts and plan activities accordingly. On most days, early morning, late afternoon and evening are when pollen concentrations are lowest. Keep windows closed to prevent pollen from entering your home.
- Keep in mind that hot, dry, windy days are when weed pollen is at its fiercest.
- Wearing sunglasses helps keep pollen out of your eyes by shielding them from the wind.
- Change clothes, shower, and wash your hair when coming in from outdoors.
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