May 5, 2019
May 5, 2019 2:53 PM EDT
The flowers are blooming. Your eyes are itchy and watery. Your sinuses are plugged and you’re sneezing.
Seasonal allergy symptoms will only get worse due to climate change, according to a recent study published in the Lancet Planetary Health.
The study, which analyzed pollen counts in 17 locations around the world over an average of 20 years, linked rising temperatures to longer allergy seasons and higher pollen counts in the northern hemisphere.
Among the locations where researchers gathered temperature and pollen data were Winnipeg and Saskatoon, where seasonal cumulative pollen increased by 3.7% and 1.7%, respectively, per year. Both cities had increases of pollen season length of 1.24 and 0.73 days per year, respectively.
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The public health impact of a longer pollen season is huge as respiratory allergies such as allergic rhinitis — also known as hay fever — affect one in five Canadians.
The plight of those hit by hay fever is something that pharmacist Nayan Patel — owner of Toronto East Pharmasave — can sympathize with as he’s also an allergy sufferer.
“Before, the seasonal allergies only just affected me in the fall. Over the years, it’s progressed to the spring,” Patel said.
“Personally, it’s gotten to the point where I’ve gone to see an allergist,” Patel said. “Some of it has to do with lifestyle since I like to golf.”
Toronto East Pharmasave pharmacist Nayan Patel. (Supplied photo)
While preventing contact with pollen is important when it comes to alleviating a lot of allergy symptoms, Patel said planning is essential when taking over-the-counter and prescription medications.
According to Asthma Canada, the earliest seasonal allergy offender is tree pollen (late April and May), grass and weed pollen in the summer (late May to mid-July), and weed pollen in the fall (mid-August to October).
Patel noted effective treatments might involve taking medications before exposure to allergens.
For example, an allergist might prescribe an allergy shot in severe cases, which needs to be ordered well in advance, Patel said.
Depending on the type of allergen, those with severe allergies may need to have an allergy shot ordered as early as November.
“Walk into a pharmacy. There’s no appointment needed. The pharmacist can talk to you about your symptoms and we can assess medication that’s safest for you,” Patel said.
Allergy season nothing to sneeze about
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