By: Diane Alavie, Pharmacist

If you’ve noticed your allergies getting worse every year, you are not alone. Our warming planet is giving pollen-producing plants more time to grow, raising the pollen count and giving rise to an allergy season 20 days earlier than in 1990. That super-sized pollination is affecting 30% of the global population.

If you are genetically predisposed and breathe in pollen, dust, or dander, the allergic cells in your lungs react and cause inflammation. The result is itchy eyes, congestion, rashes, or even an asthmatic response that makes it difficult to breathe.

If you have pollen (seasonal) allergies, begin taking antihistamines weeks before the season starts. Tree pollens appear in March and April, while grass pollens arrive in May. Weed pollens peak in July and August, with ragweed following until October.

You can help combat seasonal allergies by taking showers at night to remove any pollen, not exercising outside, using an air purifier in your bedroom, and sleeping with your windows closed. Remember, clothes and shoes can also carry pollen spores.

During a reaction, you may need a steroidal nasal spray to breathe easier. Our Yurek pharmacists can advise which medication and dose will benefit the most. Allergy shots are also an option, but you will need them frequently for an extended period to build up resistance.

A more severe allergy is anaphylaxis from specific foods or insect stings. Use Food Allergy Canada’s acronym FAST to identify if someone is reacting:

  • Face – hives, itching, redness, swelling
  • Airway – Trouble breathing, swallowing or speaking, congestion
  • Stomach – Stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Total Body – Hives, itching, swelling, dizziness

Give Epinephrine at the first sign of reaction and repeat as early as five minutes if needed.

Allergies are on the rise. If you’re unsure what’s causing yours, consult an allergist for a skin test and stock up on medications that work.