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Pollen allergies and the weather

The return of spring flowers means the return of pollen allergies
The return of spring flowers means the return of pollen allergies

Lyndsay Morrison, staff writer

April 5, 2011 — Millions of Canadians suffer from seasonal allergies. What are the symptoms, how can you find relief and how does the weather play a role?

Heat, wind and rain can all have an impact on pollen counts
Heat, wind and rain can all have an impact on pollen counts

It's spring, and that means the days are slowly getting warmer, the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming.

However, for millions of Canadians, the return of spring also means the return of seasonal allergies.

“Spring is pretty miserable for me,” Arina Gersh, a severe allergy sufferer, told The Weather Network in 2010. “My eyes turn blood red, it looks like I cry, it looks like I scratch my eyes non-stop. I sneeze and I cough.”

Gersh is not alone. At this time of year, pollen counts increase and many Canadians begin to show symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Experts say the weather can play a role in the start of allergy season.

“The pollen counts are related mostly to weather and mostly to temperature,” says Dr. Ross Chang, an allergist in British Columbia. “So the higher the temperatures ... generally there's more pollen in the air.”

Pollen allergies can last into the fall
Pollen allergies can last into the fall

Wind can also play a large role in determining how much your allergies will act up. Plant pollens carried by the wind are the cause of most nose, eye, and lung allergic reactions. In the summer months, smog and air pollution has been shown to worsen allergies and asthma symptoms. Some scientists also believe that exposure to diesel engine exhaust can increase a person's sensitivity to pollen or dust mites.

The weather can also bring some relief to allergy sufferers. A good heavy rain can clean the air for the hours during and after it falls. In the springtime, rain can help reduce tree pollen counts. However, wet conditions can also trigger more grass pollen.

The most common symptoms of a pollen allergy include:

  • sneezing
  • a runny or clogged nose
  • itchy eyes, nose or throat
  • watering eyes
  • plugged up ears
  • coughing

Dr. Gordon Sussman is an Immunologist in Toronto. He has this advice for those looking for relief from their allergy symptoms.

“It’s good for people to stay indoors if they can and use their air conditioner as a filter. People can take over the counter antihistamines as long as they’re well tolerated.”

Be sure to check The Weather Network's Pollen Report to help you stay on top of your allergies this spring.

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