Climate change likely to worsen Manitoba allergy seasons: experts

It’s the season of spring allergies: itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing.

Some Winnipeggers say it’s worse than usual this year.

“I try my best to just take some medication and get ahead of it, but certain years are worse than others. This year’s a bad one,” Suzanne Simpson told Global News on Wednesday.

Read more: Do you have allergies or a cold or flu? Here’s how to tell, and how to recover

Seasonal allergies are mainly caused by microscopic pollen from things like grass and trees, Winnipeg allergist Dr. Thomas Gerstner said — not the balls of white fluff you may have noticed floating in the air these days, which are seeds.

“These are too large to enter the nose or the eyes, and they’re just basically a nuisance,” Gerstner told 680 CJOB. “They don’t actually cause harm or symptoms.”

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You may be seeing more of them due to the stress of last year’s drought, he said.

“Delayed warmth could definitely result in a burst of activity of pollen shedding, which occurs typically on warm and windy days, so that is likely a factor this year.”

Another local allergist and clinical immunologist Dr. Karver Zaborniak says more Manitobans could be affected in the years to come, in part because of climate change.

“It’s always going to be the worst allergy season we’ve ever had,” Zaborniak said.

“Seasons are expanding, especially warmer seasons, so the duration of pollen seasons and the intensity of the pollen season is becoming worse.”

Read more: Allergy season is getting worse. Why climate change is to blame

Extended seasons are providing ample opportunities for pollination to occur, he added.

Experts recommend seeing a specialist who can help identify allergies through skin tests along with taking newer antihistamines once a day to get ahead of the game.

“If you wait till you get the symptoms, and then you take the medicine, you’ve missed the boat so to speak,” Gerstner said.

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Air purifiers, masks and keeping windows closed can also help reduce symptoms, he continued.

Meanwhile, Simpson isn’t letting her allergies get her down.

“Unfortunately, it kind of puts a dent in things, but you just do what you can, take the medication and live your best life,” she said.

“Don’t let it stop you from having fun.”

Click to play video: 'How climate change is affecting seasonal allergies' How climate change is affecting seasonal allergies

How climate change is affecting seasonal allergies – Mar 30, 2022

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