Everything Canadians need to know about autumn allergies

The weather is cooling down, the leaves are changing colours and you’re battling itchy eyes and a stuffy nose – autumn allergy season is here.

And it’ll linger until the start of winter, experts warn.

“The most common allergy is to ragweed pollen. Mould spore allergies are also present then,” Dr. David Fischer, a Western University professor and president of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, told Global News.

“Ragweed season typically kicks in around Aug. 15 and lasts until the first good frost,” he warned.

READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know about springtime allergies in Canada

Fischer and Dr. Lily Pien, a Cleveland Clinic allergist, offered their tips on how to cope with autumn allergies.

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What are the most common allergies and when do they surface?

Pien said that ragweed pollen typically peaks around Labour Day and the particles keep circulating, spelling misery for those with allergies.

“Ragweed pollen is airborne so it can travel up to 400 miles from the origin of where pollen came from. So even if you’re not seeing a ragweed plant directly in front of you, you could still be impacted by the wind-borne pollen,” Pien said.

READ MORE: Did dated recommendations contribute to the spike in food allergies in kids?

Ragweed is a wild shrub that is native to Eastern and Central North America. There are several species and they range in colours and sizes.

“Ragweed allergies in the fall are quite regional in Canada, affecting southern Ontario and western Quebec only,” Fischer warned.

Grass is another culprit but it’s a “mixed bag.” It all depends on the amount of rain that falls to encourage grass pollination.

This time around, rain encouraged ragweed growth, which means we’re dealing with a bad season in Canada, Fischer said.

What are the symptoms?

If you’re coping with ragweed symptoms, you have:

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  • Nasal itching
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Itchy, red and swollen eyes
  • Aggravated asthma symptoms (if you have asthma)
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing (if you have asthma)

READ MORE: What doctors are warning parents about allergies and asthma in kids

What can Canadians do to alleviate symptoms?

While allergies aren’t fun, there are some measures you can take to try to alleviate the symptoms:

  • Keep your windows closed, even while driving
  • Rely on your allergy medications, like antihistamines, and get them before the season peaks
  • Don’t hang laundry outside and be careful with swimming outside as it may make symptoms worse
  • If you’re not sure if you’re allergic, visit an allergist for a skin testing