High pollen alert: Allergy season returns to Vancouver

Mar 28 2023, 10:00 pm

Allergy season is in full swing in Vancouver, but if your eyes and nose are already watering, then you probably knew that.

According to the Pollen Report from The Weather Network per data from Aerobiology, pollen has been in the “very high” range this week, mostly due to cedar, juniper, and alder trees in the city.

So if you’ve been suffering from allergies this week, you’re not alone.

Why are my allergies so bad?

Allergy season in Vancouver is worsened by rising tree pollen levels in the city, according to an allergy specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Dr. Amin Kanani, who is also a clinical associate professor in the allergy and immunology division at UBC, told Daily Hive that global warming is partly to blame for worsening allergy seasons.

As the weather continues to change, trees are blooming for longer periods, and their pollen is getting more powerful.

Beautiful as they are, they might also have you coughing, sneezing, itching, and generally feeling like your head is stuffed full of cotton. It’s not a nice feeling, and it could be especially bad in Vancouver over the next few months.

“The two main allergy seasons we have in BC are tree pollen and grass pollen, and tree pollen starts generally February,” says Kanani.

“These plants, particularly alder… it’s the type of tree that tends to thrive more with the changing climate,” he says.

The main trees that cause symptoms are alder and birch.

“Pollen counts get very high ā€” into the thousands of grains of pollen per cubic metre of their pollen. The tree pollens are spread by wind, so the pollen is very tiny. It’s microscopic,” he says.

“You can’t see it, but it floats around and is very easy to bring into our nose or get in our eyes.”

What to do if you have allergies

He recommends getting confirmatory testing from an allergist if you’re having serious issues with your well-being because of the pollen.

For mild symptoms, do a saline nasal rinse or take antihistamines. From there, the next step is a prescription nasal spray or immunotherapy.

“We can expose people to small amounts of what they’re allergic to and slowly desensitize them to it,” he says.

One of the methods is by shot, whereas a newer one is a tablet that dissolves under your tongue.

Kanani adds tree pollen season will last until the end of May, but that’s when grass pollen starts. Grass pollen season goes until August, so it may be a long spring and summer for Vancouverites with allergies.

With files from Aly Laube

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