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Pollen allergy season extends from April to the first fall frosts. Find out how to minimize its impact.
We hear a lot about allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies). The reason we hear so much about it is quite simple: it affects a very large number of people of all ages. It is estimated that it affects between 10% and 30% of the population. Allergic rhinitis can occur during childhood, later on at adolescence or in adulthood. It is more common in children who have one or both parents who suffer from it.
Allergies occur when the body reacts and defends itself against substances that are usually harmless. These substances, called allergens, sometimes take the form of air-borne particles. When they come into contact with mucous membranes, such as those of the nose, mouth and eyes, the body activates an allergic reaction.
A person may react to several types of allergens: animal hair, certain foods or drugs, dust, latex, etc. For many, symptoms occur at the same time each year. Therefore, pollen is the allergen at issue. At the beginning of spring, when the ground thaws (usually in March or April), tree pollen triggers allergies. At the beginning of summer, grasses (hay, grass, and prairie grass) enter into the mix. This is followed by ragweed allergies in mid-July until the first frosts in the fall.
It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between an allergy and the common cold, as some of the symptoms are similar, like runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and nasal congestion. In the case of an allergy, a runny nose involves clear, abundant, fluid secretions. Secretions due to a cold are sometimes thicker and coloured. Both can cause headaches, fatigue, altered overall condition, and insomnia.
Here are some typical symptoms of seasonal allergies:
Note that allergic rhinitis generally does not cause a sore throat or fever. Additionally, it usually lasts more than 10 days, unlike a cold. When in doubt, it's better to consult a doctor to obtain a diagnosis.
It is best to avoid all contact with the allergen when you suffer from an allergy. This solution is relatively easy when it involves food, medication or an animal, but when it involves pollen, this complicates things, since it is airborne during allergy season.
Despite this fact, you can reduce contact with pollen and minimize allergy symptoms by following these tips:
Fortunately, there are a variety of medications and products available at the pharmacy that help you manage allergic rhinitis symptoms, including:
Most of these products are provided over-the-counter, on pharmacy shelves or following a consultation with a pharmacist. Some require a prescription.
Don't hesitate to speak to your pharmacist if you have any questions about allergies and their treatment.
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