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Allergies worse after record rainfall, say doctors

Record rainfall in Ottawa is being blamed for allergy symptoms, making this year especially bad for people with reactions to pollen, according to doctors.

Record rainfall in Ottawa is being blamed for allergy symptoms, making this year especially bad for people with reactions to pollen, according to doctors.

Allergist Judy Spence said that lately, she's seen more and more patients test positive for allergies for the first time, and she thinks she knows why.

"This year it's been non-stop. We've had the rainiest April on record," Spence said.

The wet weather nourished the pollen in the birch, maple and ash trees lining streets, doctors believe, adding that once a snap of warm weather hit, extra pollen was likely released in the air.

"In the last two to three weeks, the pollen have really, really gone through the roof, so we have a lot of reactivity," Spence said.

Stay indoors in early morning

Those with allergies said their symptoms — stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes — went from mild to extreme.

Katryn Hepworth thought she had the flu for three weeks. After going to the doctor, she was told she was allergic to pollen in most trees.

"I haven't been sleeping well," she said. "And stuffy nose and coughing a lot."

Since pollen is sticky and lingers on the skin, hair and clothes, allergy sufferers are advised to shower and put on a new outfit when they go indoors. To avoid periods when there is the most pollen in the air, people should stay indoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. and keep their windows shut.

Vitamin C and antihistamines may also help alleviate symptoms.

With files from the CBC's Ashley Burke