Tips to help keep hay fever under control


richard lautens/torstar news service


Wheezing? Rubbing your eyes? You could be suffering from hay fever, says Dr. Howard Largen of The Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Society of Ontario.


Anyone who finds themseleves rubbing their eyes, wheezing, or suffering from an itchy tongue this spring is probably experiencing the symptoms of hay fever.


“If this happens on a regular basis than it’s not a cold, and they should probably get tested by an allergist,” says Dr Howard Largen, President of The Allergy Asthma and Immunology Society of Ontario (AAISO). “A lot of times people suffer for many years thinking that it’s just a spring cold.”

Largen, who is also a practicing allergist in Toronto, says the pollen that is produced by growing trees and grass causes hay fever in the springtime by reacting with the lining of a person’s eyes, nose and mouth.

“Usually pollination begins some time in the middle of April or May, when the trees start growing,” he says, adding the two main seasons for pollination are between April and June when trees are growing and between the middle of May and July when grass is growing.

If you are one of the thousand of Canadians who suffer from hay fever, Largen suggests keeping the windows closed in your home and car to keep the pollen from bothering you, and making sure air circulation in the home is properly filtered.

Largen also says allergy sufferers would benefit from wearing a mask while cleaning dusty areas like the garage or a car.

The AAISO’s pamphlet on hay fever has some more suggestions for sufferers of hay fever. It says air conditioners are a good at controlling the air coming in during warm weather, and rainy cloudy days are actually great for helping with symptoms.

The pamphlet warns sufferers to stay away from animals, which may be carriers of pollen and says hot dry days, and days that are really windy are the most likely to aggravate your symptoms.

In fact, allergy sufferers would be able to avoid their symptoms all together by staying indoors, but Largen says people are better off just avoiding the early mornings when pollen counts are at their highest.

“Spring is the nicest time of year in Canada,” he says.

“We want people going outside and getting a little exercise.”

There is a variety of prescription and non-prescription drugs available that can help alleviate some of the symptoms of hay fever ranging from eye-drops to antihistamines.

What drugs you should take are dependent on the types of symptoms you have.