Allergy season arriving early: Tips to manage your symptoms 

March 20, 2024

Early allergy season: The climate connection

One in four Canadians experience environmental allergies. From sneezing fits and scratchy throats to itchy eyes, the arrival of Spring means many people with allergies begin their search for relief. Adding to the problem is an allergy season that has been arriving abnormally early for the past number of years and lasts longer—and many experts are connecting this to our changing climate.

While its timing has always fluctuated depending on existing weather patterns, climate change can cause flowering periods to change and create longer pollen seasons—meaning we suffer from allergies for a longer period.

What kind of pollen am I allergic to?

Different plant species flower throughout allergy season, and some people have stronger reactions to certain types of pollen. Here in British Columbia, tree pollens (such as birch and alder) kick off the season in early spring, while grass pollens dominate the environment from late spring to the middle of summer.
From late summer to early fall, weed pollens rule the roost of seasonal allergies. Many people also have allergies to certain moulds in their environment, such as leaf mould in fall. 

What can I do to stave off my symptoms?

  • Check the pollen count in your area and try to stay indoors when it is high, especially early in the day. It’s best to keep your windows closed on high count days.

  • If you have a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) air purifier for wildfire season, use it in your home when the pollen count is high.

  • Shower or bathe before bed if you have been outside during a particularly triggering day—this stops you from reacting to leftover pollen that might be on your hair or body.

  • Remember to take over the counter medications before your symptoms set in.

  • If you have been diagnosed with asthma, or deal with severe allergies, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor to discuss strategies to mitigate the symptoms, including prescription medication options.

  • If you need more specialised help with symptoms, such as chronic sinus infections or worsening asthma, an allergist can provide advice on a treatment plan for you.