Allergic rhinitis is the most common type of allergic disease. It typically causes symptoms similar to those of a cold—such as sneezing, stuffy, congested and/or runny nose, itchy and/or watery eyes—but that last much longer.
There are actually two types of allergies: perennial and seasonal (and yes, it is unfortunately possible to suffer from both). Perennial allergies can affect people all year-round, due to the constant presence of allergens—including house dust and dust mites, mould spores, animal dander/saliva—in their environment. These mostly consist of indoor triggers, so perennial allergies tend to worsen in the winter, when we are mostly inside. In contrast, seasonal allergies, as the name implies, only occur for a limited period of time or season. More commonly referred to as “hay fever,” this type of allergic rhinitis happens around the same time each year, triggered by airborne pollen from trees, grasses, ragweed, etc.
Generally speaking, pollen is released from trees in the spring, from grasses in the late spring/early summer, and from ragweed in late summer/autumn. Due to weather variations across Canada, allergy season starts and ends at different times depending on the province/region. As trees tend to bloom earlier on the milder West Coast, their pollen is released as early as February in British Columbia—where ragweed pollen is incidentally not present. Pollen allergy season therefore generally ends around July, also earlier than anywhere else. Canadians can expect to experience symptoms from March to September in the Prairies, from April to September in Quebec and Ontario, and finally from April to as late as October in the Atlantic Provinces. Since specific pollen counts vary by region and time of year, local weather reports are a most reliable source of information. It is also always a good idea to consult a doctor or healthcare professional.
The following visual guide may be helpful in understanding the “when” of allergies in your region.