With cooler weather still holding us in its grip, it’s tough to believe that spring has actually sprung. That is, until you start sneezing.

As this city transforms from leafless to flora-full, much of the population will go from pink-faced to puffy-eyed and sniffly.

The allergy season is upon us. And it’s started early, says Dr. Alan Kaplan, chair of the Family Physician Airways Group of Canada.


Before nature gets a chance to run amok on your nasal passages — it may be a bad year as the forecast calls for heat with little rainfall — Kaplan says there’s a lot one can do to stave off the itchy eyes, stuffy nose, scratchy throat and coughing that accompanies seasonal allergies.

The first thing to do is get diagnosed, he says.

“Go see a doctor sooner rather than later,” he says, noting between 10 and 20 per cent of the population probably suffers from allergies. “Having symptoms is a big deal. It can have a real impact on quality of life.”

While seasonal allergies can’t kill you, Kaplan says, they can disrupt sleep and alertness, reduce productivity and even cause secondary infections that could lead to sickness.

An early diagnosis can have a great impact on the kind of treatment that will help fight different allergies lurking outside, he says.

Tree pollen starts to tickle nose hairs at this time of year, grass becomes a bother in about a month, and ragweed in June and July.

In order for some treatments to be helpful, they must be taken at certain times of the year.

Allergy shots, Kaplan explains, need to be administered before the season starts and that might mean right now.