Allergic disorders are common and can have an enormous impact. For those affected, regular work and recreational activities can turn into unpleasant and even life-threatening situations. Among Canadians, 20 to 25 percent have respiratory allergies, and 6 to 8 percent have food allergies.
Allergies have complex causation, with both environmental and genetic factors. People with allergies react in an exaggerated manner to usually harmless substances such as pollen, animal dander, and food ingredients. Allergies can be hereditary — if both parents have allergies, their children have a 75 percent chance of developing them.
Seasonal allergies are those that are worse at particular times of the year. They depend on the quantities of allergen in the air and vary with local climate, weather patterns,and geographic location. In contrast, perennial allergies are caused by allergens present throughout the year, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mould.
Drug treatment and immunotherapy for seasonal allergies help most patients. Allergen avoidance is an essential component of seasonal allergy management as well. This must include identifying a patient’s allergens, and it can involve:
- Pollen filters in the car, home, and workplace
- Dust masks
- Avoiding outdoor activities and keeping windows shut during the high season for a particular antigen
Starting medication some weeks before the anticipated rise in exposure also helps mitigate seasonal allergy symptoms.
Help your patients prepare for allergy season – test your allergy knowledge:
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Sierra-Heredia, C., North, M., Brook, J., et al. (2018). Aeroallergens in Canada: Distribution, Public Health Impacts, and Opportunities for Prevention. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2018; 15: 1577.