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Little girl holds inhaler mask at home

Many people suffer from hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, and asthma during the spring. Hay fever affects 15% of Canadians. Individuals below 20 years old usually develop hay fever, which reduces as we age. Both hay fever and asthma can interfere with your daily life.

What are the causes of allergies and asthma?

Asthma and allergies often occur together since many allergy triggers display the same symptoms as asthma. Both allergies and asthma result from an allergic reaction to outdoor or indoor allergens, such as pollen, pet dander, or dust mites. Once in your body, the allergen affects your immune system by releasing inflammatory substances. These substances like histamine trigger allergic symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Once you have been exposed to an allergen, the symptoms usually appear immediately. They can include a runny nose, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, coughing, wheezing, itchy throat, and sinus pressure and pain.

These symptoms can cause several problems, including poor sleep, reduced productivity, sinusitis, and ear infections.

What are the treatments?

Once you know your triggers, it is best to avoid them whenever possible. If your symptoms are not severe, consult with your pharmacist regarding over-the-counter medications. If you have asthma, see your doctor regularly. If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe treatments, such as nasal corticosteroids, antihistamines, decongestants, or sinus rinsing.

You also may want to consider herbal remedies, supplements, and alternative therapies, such as probiotics, acupuncture, or hypnosis.

What are lifestyle remedies?

  • You may not be able to avoid your allergens completely, but you can reduce your exposure using a variety of remedies, including these:
  • Close doors and windows
  • Use air conditioning in the house and car
  • Use an allergy-grade filter in the ventilation system
  • Avoid outdoor activity early in the morning or during windy days
  • Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves
  • Wear a dust mask when cleaning indoors or gardening outdoors
  • Use allergy-proof covers on mattresses and wash sheets in water temperature of at least 54°C
  • Remove carpets in the home or vacuum carpets weekly using a vacuum with a HEPA filter

For more information about asthma, visit the following sites: