Fast-growing grass makes allergies worse on the West Coast

Have you noticed your allergy symptoms lingering over the last few weeks? Find out why and get some unusual advice on how to soothe your itchy eyes and nose.

Many allergy sufferers turning to acupuncture to soothe acute symptoms

B.C.'s grass season has been bad, and some sufferers may want to get their allergies tested 2:08

Trees and grass are usually a problem for allergy sufferers on the West coast but if you think your allergies are a lot worse this year, you're not alone.

Allergist Dr. Donald Stark says the grass is growing — fast — and that means allergies will linger a few extra weeks.

The cool, wet weather of spring delayed the tree pollen season, but made the grass grow even faster — aggravating allergy sufferers. (CBC)

"I think it has been a worse grass season this year," said Stark. "Maybe not quite as bad as a tree pollen season but there's been more overlap. I think with the grass and tree pollen season that compounds the problem."

Stark says the cool, wet weather of spring delayed the tree pollen season, but made the grass grow even faster.

"The tree pollen season can overlap with the grass season, so people who are frequently allergic to both tree and grass pollen are getting a double whammy."

Some 30 per cent of people suffer from allergies. Stark says most don't need an allergy test but if your symptoms get worse each year, it may be helpful to get tested.

"Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between a respiratory infection versus allergies. Usually allergies are more associated with the symptoms of itchy eyes and nose over more general malaise."

It's not just allergists seeing an increase in patients this summer — acupuncturists like Julie Shillabeer are also seeing more allergy sufferers looking for relief.

"I've been seeing a huge increase with patients coming in for acute allergy symptoms," says Shillabeer, who is treating patient Kate Leinweber for worse-than-normal allergies.

Leinweber says Chinese medicine helps, relieving some of the pressure and making it easier to breathe.

With or without treatment though, allergy relief is ultimately on its way — the grass season should finally wind down at the end of July.

With files from the CBC's Bal Brach

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