Why allergy season is getting longer, and what you can do about it
TORONTO – Though allergy season appears to be getting longer, Canadians have a growing list of options in dealing with seasonal sniffles.
Global News medical correspondent Dr. Samir Gupta says that climate change, a longer growing season and increased precipitation are the current theories for prolonged allergy season – which impacts a large segment of the North American population.
“Ten to 30 per cent of people in North America actually have allergic rhinitis (which means nasal symptoms), and about 60 per cent of them will have allergic conjunctivitis (or eye symptoms) too – so it is a very common problem.”
However, Canadians seeking solace from summer sniffles may be happy to learn that a ragweed immunotherapy pill has recently been approved in Canada.
Immunotherapy involves exposing patients to increasing doses of allergens (in this case, ragweed) so their immune system becomes familiar with and stops reacting to the allergen.
Dr. Gupta says that traditional immunotherapy requires injections to be performed at a doctor’s office, and while effective, pose the risk of a severe allergic reaction.
The recently-released oral alternative comes with its own set of caveats – it is safe to take at home and less invasive, but expensive and generally less effective.
Below are Dr. Gupta’s top five tips for the seasonal allergy suffers:
1. Asthma – Remember that allergies and asthma can go hand in hand, and if you have a cough, or wheeze, or shortness of breath, it’s not just allergies – it’s probably allergic asthma – and you need to see your doctor and get lung function testing to get diagnosed.
2. Avoidance – Check your local weather station’s pollen report for your your region, and consider altering your plans accordingly, or taking precautions.
3. Antihistamines – Preferably non-sedating, newer generation over-the-counter pills.
4. Nasal steroids – The most effective therapy for allergic rhinitis (the key is to start even before your symptoms take hold)
5. Allergy immunotherapy – that means if all of the above aren’t effective, talk to your doctor about allergy shots or the newer allergy pills we discussed.
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