Achoo! It’s the peak of allergy season
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.