Achoo! It’s the peak of al­lergy sea­son

The Glengarry News - - News -

Fling open the win­dows, stroll in the grass, stop and smell the lilac bushes. While most peo­ple em­brace those rites of spring, those sim­ple plea­sures are off-lim­its for many al­lergy suf­fer­ers.

Air­ing out the house is part of the sea­sonal rou­tine, but open win­dows also per­mit the en­try of that dreaded and ubiq­ui­tous me­nace -- pollen. Mow­ing the lawn is a weekly chore at this time of the year. But a per­son with sea­sonal al­ler­gies can be driven in­side by the mere smell of grass.

Ah, the lilacs are fi­nally bloom­ing. The scent and sight of the colour­ful bush are true har­bin­gers of warm weather. Yet, an al­lergy suf­ferer knows that a close-up en­counter with a bloom can trig­ger symp­toms, such as sneez­ing, itchy and wa­tery eyes, sore throats.

As any­one with al­ler­gies can tell you, pollen sea­son is peak­ing, with higher than nor­mal lev­els fill­ing the air.

A sin­gle birch tree can pro­duce up to 5 mil­lion pollen grains. How­ever, the vol­ume seems to have in­creased this year, ap­par­ently be­cause trees are try­ing to re­cover from a stress­ful 2018 grow­ing sea­son.

Farm­ers im­mune?

De­spite its name, hay fever is rarely a prob­lem for hay pro­duc­ers, and farm­ers in gen­eral.

In fact, a tol­er­ance to pollen is one of the many ben­e­fits of liv­ing in the coun­try, many peo­ple be­lieve.

“The farm ef­fect” the­ory is that chil­dren who are ex­posed to dust and pollen build up im­mu­nity against al­ler­gens.

Long-time city dwellers of­ten have al­lergy prob­lems after they move to ru­ral ar­eas. Some have re­sorted to wear­ing face masks be­cause the symp­toms have been so acute.

Sweet rem­edy

An­other premise, which would fur­ther bol­ster the Shop Lo­cally move­ment, is that lo­cal honey can ward off al­lergy at­tacks. While there is a plethora of med­i­ca­tion avail­able, some swear by honey, and in a good way.

The idea is that lo­cal, un­pro­cessed honey con­tains pollen and by in­gest­ing the sweet prod­uct, an al­lergy suf­ferer is less vul­ner­a­ble to the pollen’s ef­fects.

In ad­di­tion to this “al­ler­gen de­sen­si­ti­za­tion” ben­e­fit, re­search shows that chem­i­cals in honey may help sup­press genes that make one more sus­cep­ti­ble to his­tamine, which causes all those nasty symp­toms.

Weather fore­casts

The Weather Net­work can help ad­vise the al­ler­gic when they should stock up on fa­cial tis­sues.

The Pollen Re­port is de­ter­mined from sam­ple col­lec­tions taken at 32 lo­cal re­port­ing sta­tions across Canada. The pollen fore­cast is based on ac­tual num­ber of par­ti­cles per cu­bic me­tre of air.

For ex­am­ple, for this re­gion, birch pollen lev­els have been very high over the last few weeks, while “mod­er­ate” pine, fir and spruce lev­els have been de­tected.

Tree pollen is par­tic­u­larly trou­ble­some from early April un­til June in On­tario and Que­bec while grass pollen will be hang­ing around from now un­til mid-June.

Rag­weed will be lin­ger­ing all summer.

Prevention

As al­ways, prevention is the best ap­proach.

To min­i­mize ex­po­sure to pollen, al­lergy suf­fer­ers are ad­vised to stay in­doors at dusk and dawn when pollen lev­els tend to spike, and to keep win­dows closed. Reme­dies in­clude over-the-counter prod­ucts, nose flushes, herbs, air fil­ters, reg­u­lar vac­u­um­ing. When in doubt, con­sult a pro­fes­sional.

PO­TEN­TIAL PROB­LEMS: A flour­ish­ing lilac bush is a wel­come sign after a long, cold win­ter. How­ever, pollen can be prob­lem­atic for an al­lergy suf­ferer.

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