Got Grass Allergies? Here’s Why—And What You Can Do About It

Are you among the 25% of Canadians affected by grass allergies? Instead of spending the summer cooped up indoors, try these strategies for coping with the symptoms.

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Grass allergies affect a quarter of all Canadians.
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Grass Allergies Affect a Quarter of All Canadians

Up to 25 per cent of Cana­dians suffer from grass allergies, and if you’re one of them, the early summer months may not be your favour­ite time of year. Between May and June, winds scatter the highly allergenic pollen produced by grass. This means you’re more likely to breathe it in, says Dr. Anne Ellis, chair of the division of allergy and immunology in the department of medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

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Common symptoms of seasonal allergies include itchy eyes and congestion.
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Common Grass Allergy Symptoms (and How to Treat Them)

Grass allergy sufferers often complain of itchy and burning eyes; other common symptoms include a runny nose, congestion and sneezing. Those with asthma may find that grass allergies trigger an asthma flare-up. People plagued by these issues should consider trying an over-the-counter antihistamine as a first step. According to Ellis, the non-sedating varieties developed in the last few decades, like Claritin or Reactine, are a better choice than first-generation options, which have sedative properties that can impair cognition, particularly in children and the elderly. If over-the-counter drugs aren’t working for you, your doctor may be able to prescribe a steroid spray to address the nasal inflammation that’s causing the uncomfortable symptoms.

Looking for natural relief? Try these 12 Homeopathic Allergy Remedies

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Allergy shots provide an effective treatment for serious allergy symptoms.
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When It’s Time to See an Allergist

If the above treatments aren’t providing relief, consider getting a referral to an allergist, who can give you allergy shots. This approach aims to train your immune system to ignore the allergens. That means the body becomes desensitized to pollen over time and can better tolerate expos­ure. You’ll need weekly injections for the first four to six months, then monthly shots for three to five years. “It’s really important for people to realize that there are effective treatments for allergies,” says Ellis. “You don’t need to suffer.”

Check out these 11 Clever Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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