The start of spring to many is a beautiful time of year,  people and animals are out and everything is starting to bloom. But for those with allergies spring also means the start of something else.

“Runny nose, red eyes, itchy eyes, itchy skin, you name it I got it,” said Gayle Moxam.

At this time of year, trees are the culprits and they are everywhere.

“Tree pollen is a major allergen out there alder and cedar are two big ones, especially for the early pollen season. A little bit later on you get things like birch and oak but you don’t have as much of it out there so it’s mostly the early pollen that is most important in Victoria,” said Dawn Jergens, General Manager at the Aerobiology Research Lab.

Unlike flowers that are pollinated by insects, Trees use the air around us.

“There’s a lot of pollen in the air right now and we are forecasting there to be quite a bit of pollen over the next week or two,” said Jergens.

The bad news is just because you don’t usually have allergies doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

“At different times from one year to the next even there can be different allergens in the environment that we are exposed to so some people can have no allergies one year and then the next have tons of allergies,” said Naturopath Dr. Jocelyn Taitt.

According to the Aerobiology Lab that collects pollen samples from across Canada says because of the February cold snap it’s been a late start to the pollinating season but it’s ramping up.

“So far it hasn’t been as bad compared to previous years up to this point but now that its kind of getting going it probably will turn out to be pretty similar. We did get the samples from Vancouver and we did see a big dramatic rise in their pollen count over the past week and so we are expecting something similar to happen in Victoria as well,” said Jergens.

Dr.Taitt says treating allergies also starts with your diet.

“Having a lot of berries as well as some bright coloured vegetables especially the red or orange or yellow fruits and vegetables those have a lot of the antioxidants that support our immune system and if anyone is ever making a broth then adding some onion skins can be really helpful cause onion skins contain a natural antihistamine,” said Dr.Taitt.

Taitt says keeping your windows closed to keep the pollen out, vacuuming, using a HEPA air filter, changing filters in your car and switching your clothes after being outside are everyday things people can try to improve symptoms.

An app called ‘allergy sufferers’ developed by the Aerobiology Research Lab can also help people track how bad the pollen is on a given day. Depending on your location the app lets you know the pollen forecast four days at a time.

 

Luisa Alvarez