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British Columbians seeing worsened allergy symptoms with quick start to hot weather

Pollens are out in ‘full force,’ says Vancouver pharmacist
Colourful spring flowers and trees bloom as people visit the arboretum in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. A Vancouver pharmacists says spring allergies are now in full force after a delay to the warmer weather in B.C. in 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Allergy season in B.C. saw a bit of a delay this year, but with a quick start to summer-like weather a Vancouver pharmacist says people are getting worse allergy symptoms than they typically would.

Anoop Khurana said with the recent temperature increases he’s been getting more questions and inquiries into allergies, and what people should being taking for medication.

“I find this year, allergy season was a little bit delayed and that was because we had a winter season that kind of spilled into spring, in terms of the cold and damp conditions,” explained Khurana, a pharmacist at a Vancouver Shoppers Drug Mart. “But since the temperatures have risen in B.C. really quickly, like we’re in a heat wave now, and it’s been a lot drier, people are getting worse allergies symptoms than they have typically.”

READ MORE: B.C. prepares for 1st heat wave of season

The pollens are out there in “full force,” he said.

As B.C. goes into spring and the middle of summer, grass pollen is the typical allergen. That’s compared to tree pollen in the winter and spring and weed pollen in the late-summer and early fall.

Khurana said that with the air quality concerns from wildfire smoke, there is “some linkage between allergies and asthma.” As well, he said, scientists have noted that with climate change, there may also be a link to more severe allergy symptoms “because there are just more pollens out now and it’s potentially because more carbon dioxide emissions.”

“Unfortunately, it’s not looking good for allergy sufferers out there right now.”

A 2021 report noted that human-caused climate change could impact respiratory health, including asthma and allergies, through temperature-driven increases in airborne pollen.

RELATED: A 139-km car trip: Fraser Health working to reduce climate impact of inhalers

But Khurana did have some tips for those dealing with allergies.

“I know it’s easier said than done because in the summer we all want to be outside, but honestly the best way to prevent getting allergy symptom flare up is … really to avoid as much exposure as you can.”

Pollen is “really sticky,” so covering up as much as you can is important, as well as washing your hands when you come inside. Better yet, take a quick shower, if you can.

When it comes to over-the-counter mediation, Khurana said the “gold standard” is non-drowsy antihistamines that work for 24 hours.

“Sometimes allergy symptoms can also lead to nasal congestion, as well. So if that’s the case, then you may need to go with something that has a decongestant in it.”

He added some weather apps or websites have pollen forecasts, so checking which allergens may be out in full force could be useful.

READ MORE: Climate change is impacting earthquake risks, federal report finds


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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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