Know Your Enemy- What Triggers Your Allergies?
Do you find that your allergies are worst at a certain time during the year? You're not alone. Not all seasonal allergies are created equal- what triggers symptoms in one person during the spring may trigger those same symptoms in someone else during the fall. Read our guide below to get a better idea of the most likely culprit behind your allergies.
March to May- Tree Pollen and Snow Mold
This season starts as early as March depending on the region, but usually peaks during April and May. Since the majority of Canada experienced a late spring this year, if you experience tree pollen allergies, you may be sneezing into late May and even June. The usual culprits of allergy-triggering species are ash, alder, birch, box-elder, cedar, elm, maple, mulberry, oak and walnut. When a tree has a male and female species, such as ash and box elder, the male trees are the pollen producers (and the ones to avoid).
Mold spores grow on grass after the snow melts, so generally these are most prevalent during the early months of spring, from March to early May.
June and July- Grass Pollen
Generally speaking, grasses release less pollen than trees- so if you experience grass allergies, your symptoms tend to be less severe. On the downside, pollination season lasts longer with grasses, so you may be stuck with symptoms for a while. Grasses most likely to cause allergies include Bermuda, Johnson, Kentucky bluegrass, timothy, fescue, orchard and sweet vernal. Grasses also tend to trigger itchy, watery eyes more than tree pollen.
Late July- Mold
No, you aren't seeing double- certain types of mold begin to flourish after pollen season ends. Unfortunately, it's not just limited to outdoors either- alternaria and cladosporium, two of the biggest offenders during this season, grow inside as well as outside. Alternaria tends to grow inside on your window frames and carpets, and is found outdoors on soil and plants. Cladosporium are generally the biggest contributor to airborne spore counts outdoors, and love to grow on moist surfaces indoors. Some of the proteins in spores can end up in the nose, mouth or throat and cause hay-fever like symptoms similar to pollen. If the spores make their way into the lungs, they can cause asthma.
Humidity tends to affect fungus growth- so if you suffer from a mold allergy, it may be a good idea to look into a dehumidifier.
August to October- Ragweed
One of the most prevalent and prolific pollens in cities, ragweed is the chief culprit behind fall allergies. It grows faster in cities because of the warmer climate and produces and releases large amounts of pollen, making it hard to avoid. Canada is
Year Round- Pet Allergies and Dust
Pet dander is comprised of dead skin and pet hair and the main source of pet allergens. Exposure to house dust containing pet dander or handling an animal will generally trigger these allergies. Using a HEPA filter, opting for washable carpets and keeping pets out of your bedroom will all help cut down on pet allergies.
Dust also contains dust mites- tiny bugs that live in your home and feed off of dead skin, pollen, and fungi. Dust mites thrive in humid conditions, such as pillows, carpets, furniture, mattresses, and stuffed toys. It's best to vacuum and dust regularly, wash your sheets often and replace pillows and mattresses with hypoallergenic options to cut down on dust.
If you're suffering from allergies, its a good idea to schedule an allergy skin test with your doctor to make sure what exactly triggers your symptoms- and check out our list of what to do when allergy season hits.