Allergy-prone Manitobans rattled by ragweed with fall on horizon

Feeling the sniffles as we head into the fall?

It’s not unusual for many Manitobans to show allergy symptoms at this time of year, a University of Manitoba allergist says.

“We’ve transferred now through our grass allergy season into weed pollens in Manitoba,” said Dr. Karver Zaborniak, clinical immunology and allergy program director at the U of M.

“For a large part in Manitoba, that’s ragweed, so for people who are allergic to those plants, that’s the primary reason they’d be having symptoms right now.”

Zaborniak said, in general, allergy seasons seem to be extending as temperatures remain above freezing for longer periods of time heading into the winter, but there are environmental factors each year that can contribute.

“(There are) factors throughout each season individually with moisture levels and sun levels that may allow for better conditions for plant growth, and that results in higher pollen counts,” he said.

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“Depending on different temperature variables, the amount that a pollen can actually become an allergen … can actually change as well.”

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Wind is another factor, potentially blowing pollens hundreds of kilometres, if not more.

In most cases, Zaborniak said, Manitobans will be headed to local pharmacies for over-the-counter allergy meds to address their symptoms, though he also recommends seeing a professional and having allergy tests done to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms and better arm yourself to tackle them in future.

Other than that, it’s a waiting game until conditions change each year.

“It’s as unpredictable as the weather forecast, so to speak,” he said.

“Ultimately, it’s going to take colder temperatures — and for some allergens, it will actually take until snowfall — until we start to see relief from that.

“It’s hard, as a Winnipegger, to have to hope for colder weather … but for people with allergies, it does help.”

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