5 ways to fight allergies this summer

Grass pollen season is here and a McMaster University allergy specialist has tips on how to get through it.
Grass pollen season is here, and a McMaster allergy specialist has tips to get through it. (iStock)

Allergy season is in full swing in Hamilton, with sufferers hacking and sneezing their way through some high pollen counts, says Dr. Susan Waserman, an allergist and immunology professor at McMaster University.

"We're now into grass pollen season," Waserman said. "The counts are fairly high in some areas, like Hamilton and Brampton."

Hamilton's chilly spring also shortened and intensified tree pollen allergy season, she says, as many trees pollinated all at once as the weather suddenly got warmer.

But on the whole, this summer doesn't appear to be any better or worse than most other years, she's quick to add. "This one does not stand out as exceptional," she said.

Exceptional or not, allergies are a real pain for some people – so here are Waserman's five tips for getting through allergy season relatively unscathed.

  1. Keep your windows closed in your home and car. This one seems like common sense, but keep in mind it's more difficult for pollen to get at you without a wide-open window. And if you don't have air conditioning, well – balance the comfort of not sneezing against the comfort of not sweating.
  2. Use over the counter antihistamines. These are the best first line of defence against nasal issues and eye irritation, Waserman says.
  3. If your symptoms are more severe, intranasal sprays are a good way to get your symptoms under control.
  4. In some cases, desensitizing medications are a good bet to quell your symptoms throughout the season. These were once only available in injections that worked in much the same way as immunizations do – but now, they're available in pill form.
  5. To find the best plan to fight your specific allergies, see an allergist, Waserman says. "See a doctor – don't suffer in silence."

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