Tis the season to be snotty, itchy and sneezy.
Springtime should be about warm weather and outdoor actives, but for some, it only means annoying allergies.
You may not even realize you have them. Since runny noses and sneezing are common symptoms of a cold, Dr. Susan Waserman, allergist and clinical immunologist of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., says allergies are often ignored.
"The mistake people make is that they think it's just a cold — but these symptoms can go on for months," Waserman says. "One way to distinguish between a cold and allergies is to know that colds can go away within a few days. If your symptoms are persistent, seek medication attention."
But even though roughly 25 per cent of people in Canada suffer from seasonal allergies, she says it's hard to have an exact breakdown of what people suffer from the most.
In spring and summer, people are vulnerable to tree pollen, ragweed or grass allergies, but dust mites, pets and moulds are also common in warmer months. Waserman says tree pollen allergies are very common, and can start anywhere from January to April depending on the city you live in.
But shutting your windows and hibernating all season isn't the only way to "cure" your allergies. For some, over-the-counter or prescribed medication can do the trick, while for others, using fewer hair products or avoiding smoke from cookouts can help decrease the sneeze.
Before you get glued to your box of tissues, here are 10 things you should know about springtime allergies:
Your Age Doesn't Matter:
At least 25 per cent of people suffer from seasonal allergies, says Dr. Susan Waserman, allergist and clinical immunologist of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont,. People of any age can suddenly develop allergies. "Many children grow up with allergies and other people get them as adults."
Your City Could Be The Problem:
Where you live can also affect your allergies, Waserman says. People who live in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba for example have more exposure to ragweed than people who live out West.
It Can Be Genetic:
If you or your partner have sneezathons during spring months, don't be surprised if your kids have similar symptoms. "In order to become allergic you need genetics and exposure in the environment," Waserman says.
Allergens Don't Appear At The Same Time:
A common myth people have about spring allergies is that allergens like ragweed and tree pollen all appear during the same months. Waserman says tree pollen appears anytime between the end of March to early June, while grass allergens appear between the mid-May and mid-July, and ragweed allergens appear mid-August to the first frost.
Not Just The Greens:
Outdoor moulds, mildew and even your pet can cause springtime allergies, Waserman says.
Could It Be A Cold?:
Sometimes your cold symptoms can actually be an allergy. "The mistake people make is that they think it's just a cold — but these symptoms can go on for months," Waserman says. If you're having a hard time distinguishing between the two, remember this: allergies don't have fevers or greenish nasal discharge.
Trivializing Serious Conditions:
"People tend to trivialize hay fever and asthma as just an allergy and not a big deal," Waserman says. These conditions, she says, can get serious over time if they are ignored. Always consult your allergist or doctor if you believe you're experiencing asthma or hay fever.
For the most part, you can't "cure" your allergies, but there are small ways to avoid them. If you're allergic to grass or pollen, keep your windows shut and turn on the air conditioning, Waserman says. Think about it this way: it's a good excuse to not mow the lawn.
Fear Your Bed:
Sometimes, it could be your bed. "Dust mites are not airborne, but some people have increase symptoms this time of the year," Waserman says. These dust mites usually settle in your bedding or mattresses.
Don't Be Afraid To Get Checked Out:
If your allergies don't seem to go away on their own or if you're tired of using different over-the-counter products, visit an allergist to take an allergy test and find out exactly what you're allergic to.