Late spring creates seasonal allergy nightmare for some in Quebec

Late spring weather in Quebec has led to a harder allergy season for those who react strongly to multiple types of pollen.

There are medicinal and non-medicinal methods to combat seasonal allergies, says Dr. Jesse Schwartz

Getting out and enjoying the great outdoors, like these BMX bikers in Boucherville, Que., is harder for the province's allergy sufferers this year. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

Late spring weather in Quebec has led to a harder allergy season for those who react strongly to multiple types of pollen.

Tree allergies typically flare up in April and May in the province. Then grass allergies kick into high gear come May and June.

This year, everything seems to be happening at once, according to Dr. Jesse Schwartz, an allergist at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital.

"Many patients are allergic to multiple different allergens like grass, ragweed, trees," Schwartz told CBC Montreal's Daybreak. "Because of the longer winter, we may have those happening at the same time for some patients."

They typically suffer from runny, itchy eyes and nasal congestion, Schwartz explained.

Patients may experience seasonal allergy symptoms all the way through the warmer months until the first frost, he said.

How to relieve allergies

There are ways to fight allergy symptoms with or without medication, said Schwartz.

"Keep the windows closed so pollen isn't entering the house," he said.

"There are also nasal saline rinses which you can go to a pharmacy to purchase those. It's important to remember to boil the water and let it cool before use."

Dr. Jesse Schwartz says there are ways to treat seasonal allergies both at home or with the help of an allergist. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

There are also various medications like antihistamines and nasal steroids, Schwartz said.

There are other techniques an allergist can prescribe, he said, but it is a "trial and error process."

Allergies typically develop early in life, but people can develop them later as well.

Respiratory allergies such as allergic rhinitis affect one in five Canadians, according to Asthma Canada, a volunteer-driven charity devoted to enhancing the quality of life for people living with asthma and respiratory allergies.

The charity says 75 per cent of asthma patients also have seasonal allergies and seasonal allergies tend to make asthma worse.  And 80 per cent of people with asthma also suffer from allergic rhinitis or sinusitis, it says.

A common seasonal allergen is ragweed. The government of Quebec recommends pulling out or mowing the plant on personal property. There are efforts in towns and cities like Montreal to limit its growth. 

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak


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