Allergy sufferers brace for intense season
With seasonal allergies on the rise, Ottawa residents are bracing for a potentially rough season.
Christian Ricard is one of many who suffer from allergies, and this year is proving to be intense.
“I go outside and it’s like hay fever right away, so it’s really annoying,” Ricard said.
He is seeking help from an allergist to determine what he is and isn’t allergic to, to hopefully reduce his symptoms.
“Itchy eyes, runny nose, and sometimes I get hives, my skin can get itchy. If I’m exposed for a long time I can get short of breath and I have a hard time breathing and I start coughing as well,” he said.
Allergist Dr. Seema Khan of Ottawa Allergy Associates said they have been busy so far this year.
“Yeah, it’s been a very, very busy spring,” she said.
Khan recommends several ways to avoid allergens.
“Pollen counts can be very high early in the morning, so it is a good idea to sleep with your windows closed, air conditioning on. Don’t hang clothes out to dry. Don’t hang bed sheets out to dry. If you want to air out your home, do it when it rains because then the pollen is heavy, it goes to the ground.”
Aerobiology Research Laboratories collects daily pollen and spore samples to analyze what’s in the air.
According to director Daniel Coates, this year’s season will be short but intense.
“If you recall, there was a lot more cold weather in March and April and so it really delayed the season,” says Coates. “Because the season started so late, though, you’re getting a lot of crossover pollens, ones that pollinate earlier in the season and once it pollinates around mid-late April to May. So we’re having a higher concentration of pollen, which could have allergy sufferers suffering a little bit more than they normally would.”
Pollen under a microscope at Aerobiology Research Laboratories. (Courtesy: Aerobiology Research Laboratories)
At Ottawa Allergy Associates, patients continue to get tested. Linda Powers, who suffers from allergies, said she can tell when ragweed is coming out.
“You know when ragweed is coming out because the allergies start, and my son developed it as well. He thought because he was a child when he developed it that it’s getting better. Whereas I was 18 when I developed it so as an adult, typically it doesn’t go away,” she said.
As for Ricard, he is now receiving weekly allergy shots to hopefully keep his symptoms under control.
“I don’t think it’s meant for everyone. Some people have very mild cases of allergies, but for people with severe allergies, definitely a good option,” he said.
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