More pollen means earlier allergy season on Vancouver Island


If you think you’ve noticed more pollen in the air this spring, it might not be just in your head.

An arborist in Victoria says climate change has contributed to more vigorous tree growth, which produces more pollen.

“It’s not just that there’s more pollen,” says Dan Sharp from Davey Tree Services. “It’s also that pollen season is longer.”

Sharp notes more heat and carbon dioxide means increased growth, but with less moisture in our spring and summer it’s tricky to predict what comes next.

“It’s like an athlete,” Sharp said. “If you give them supplemental oxygen and steroids to increase their performance, but then don’t feed them lunch. You just have no idea how they’re going to react.”

And while allergy season is tough to predict, the symptoms remain fairly consistent. Patients with itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and irritated throats are showing up at pharmacies looking for relief. Especially those suffering seasonal allergies for the first time.

“We get lots of patients searching the shelves looking for relief,” says Fairuz Siraj, a pharmacist at Pharmasave.

Since the provincial government gave the green light to pharmacists to prescribe allergy medications last June, he’s entering allergy season primed to prescribe.

“We’ll do an assessment to see if it’s appropriate for us to prescribe and we can save you some money to get the appropriate therapy for you,” Siraj said.

Siraj says often times allergy medications off the shelf are sufficient, and nasal sprays are more effective.

Monday and Tuesday’s pollen count is high in Victoria, and Sharp says there’s no avoiding it.

“Aside from sealing off your house and getting good quality air fitlers, there’s not much you can do,” Shriaz said.

If you have questions, Siraj says ask a pharmacist.

“Pharmacists are playing a great role helping out our community,” he says. “I’m super proud of it. We understand there’s a significant lack of physicians out there and we’re drug experts. This is what we do.”

Jordan Cunningham

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