Victoria in bloom marks the beginning of allergy season


WATCH: The number of people who suffer from airborne allergies has been on the rise in Canada. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

It’s back, the season of spring, sunshine and suffering for the millions of Canadians with allergies.

“I have a stuffed nose, watery eyes and an itchy face,” said one woman describing her symptoms.

“This year, I had itchy eyes and a lot of sneezing to the point where my throat got sore,” explained another.

Some doctors say British Columbians have it the worst.

This year, a mix of rainy days followed by sunny periods is creating a more prolonged allergy season because more pollen is present in the air.

“It’s really important to assess the patient about what’s bugging them the most,” said pharmacist John Forster-Coull of the Victoria Compounding Pharmacy.

Forster-Coull says treating allergies is a mix of trial and error.

“Every patient responds to medications differently,” Forster-Coull explained. “Sometimes the patient has to rotate through other antihistamines. One year, one antihistamine works great, and other years it just doesn’t work so well.”

With dozens of over-the-counter allergy medications available, Forster-Coull says it’s important to assess your symptoms with a pharmacist or family doctor.

“Allergies are quite varied,” Forster-Coull said. “Some people have mainly an eye problem, others are sneezing, and some have an itchy nose.”

Advancements in recent years include sublingual immunotherapy, where a small dose of the allergen is administered in drop form under the tongue.

The treatment is meant to help reduce reactivity to the allergen.

Doctors say it’s a viable alternative to allergy injections, although too late for sufferers this season.

“[Allergists] do allergy testing, and then the physicians assess what [the patient is] actually allergic to,” Forster-Coull explained. “Then they can try and desensitize them in the clinic.”

Others have found their own remedies when it comes to treating allergies.

“A lady at work this year suggested I try some essentials oils,” said one allergy sufferer. “It seemed to help ease a little bit of the congestion.”

“I just try to stay away from being out of the fields,” said another.

Doctors also recommend using a dehumidifier in your home, washing your linens often, and changing your clothes as soon as you get home to help ease allergy symptoms.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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