Allergy season in B.C. was delayed due to the exceptionally long-lasting winter, but now it’s here with a vengeance.
Experts at Aerobiology Research Laboratories who specialize in pollen and spore identification and research in Canada say there are now higher levels of pollen than usual following the long delay.
The aeroallergen monitoring firm collects pollen samples across Canada each day, and the firm’s monitoring stations in Victoria and Vancouver are currently recording very high levels of cedar pollen.
Last year allergy season in Victoria and Vancouver started in January, and both cities experienced the longest allergy season in the country.
For allergy sufferers, the start of allergy season underlines the importance of taking allergy medications proactively.
WATCH: (Aired March 23) Allergist Dr. Donald Stark shares his tips on how to survive allergy season
“Many allergy sufferers make the mistake of waiting until they are experiencing symptoms before taking allergy medication,” London Drugs pharmacist Lily Liang said.
“Some medications can take a few weeks to become fully effective, so ideally, allergy sufferers should start taking their medication two weeks prior to the start of allergy season.”
On top of being proactive with medication, distinguishing between allergy and cold symptoms is crucial to treating the conditions correctly, Liang said.
A new survey conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs found that six in 10 British Columbians mistake seasonal allergy symptoms for a cold, and four in 10 aren’t taking allergy medications early enough.
Although there are similarities between cold and allergy symptoms which can make treating the correct condition difficult, there are some key ways to tell the two apart.
WATCH: (Aired March 25) New poll says allergy patients delay taking medication
“Patients experiencing seasonal allergies generally suffer from itchy watery eyes and a runny nose,” Liang said. “Symptoms of a cold may include aches and pains, a sore throat, and perhaps a fever and chills, which are not typical of seasonal allergies.”
How long these symptoms last can also be an indicator for whether or not they are from allergies or a common cold.
“A cold will generally only last about a week or two, whereas seasonal allergies will have much longer-lasting symptoms,” Liang said.
For allergies common treatments may include antihistamines, decongestants, sinus rinses, nasal sprays or eye drops.