How Can I Relieve my Seasonal Allergies?

What can I do to relieve my seasonal allergies?

Spring has finally arrived in Alberta, bringing with it sneezing, congestion and runny noses for the millions of people who struggle with seasonal allergies. Approximately 25% of Canadians suffer from seasonal allergies, which can have an impact on quality of life and day-to-day functioning.

For most individuals, common triggers include snow mold, pollen from blooming trees, grass and flowers, or exposure to other environmental triggers. Peak pollen levels often occur in spring from April to May, with grass and weed pollen the highest in the summer months, from May to mid-July and again in the fall, around mid-August to October. However, some individuals may have year-long symptoms if sensitive to substances like animal dander, dust, smoke from fires, or other triggers.

Prevent triggers if you can

If possible, try to identify your triggers and minimize exposure. If you aren’t sure what your triggers are, talk to your health care provider about getting a referral to a specialist to do an allergy skin test. This test can help identify which substances affect you the most, so you can plan accordingly.

Cleaning your furnace and air ducts, using quality air filters, and closing your windows when airborne pollen is worsened on windy days are easy things to do in the home. While outdoors, you may choose to wear a protective mask or check the Weather Network’s pollen forecast and limit outdoor exposure on bad days.

Over-the-counter treatments

If making a few lifestyle changes isn’t enough to quell your symptoms, and your health care provider has confirmed that you have seasonal allergies, the next step is to try an over-the-counter medication with an antihistamine. You can choose from tablets, nasal sprays, and eye drops, depending on your symptoms. You may find that you respond better to one brand over another, and that this response can change over time so don’t hesitate to try a different product from time to time.

In some cases, your health care provider can prescribe a stronger antihistamine, which may provide more relief if over-the-counter medications do not work well enough. If you are taking other prescription drugs, or have a diagnosed health condition, always check with your community pharmacist to avoid any potential adverse interactions.

Another option is to talk to your health care provider about trying sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), where you place the drug under your tongue to dissolve, or by getting a subcutaneous administration (SCIT) injection in the upper part of the arm. There are three commercially available SLIT products in Canada: Oralair, Ragwitek, and Grastek, which are all covered by your ASEBP benefits.

Treating allergies in children and teens

In general, young children and teens can use most over-the-counter antihistamines, but make sure to use the correct dose and choose non-sedating products. Talk to your community pharmacist for advice or to make a recommendation if you aren’t sure which product to give your child.

Identifying and treating severe allergic reactions

It’s important to understand the differences between mild and moderate allergy symptoms and severe allergic reactions. Individuals with seasonal allergies tend to have manageable symptoms, and they don’t typically experience severe reactions. For some individuals, specific triggers such as nut allergies, bee stings, or specific medications can lead to a serious allergic reaction, which can be life threatening if not treated immediately. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:

  • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your body
  • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or you may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless
  • Severe belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

If you have a confirmed history of severe allergic reactions, always carry an Epipen (or equivalent) for immediate treatment until you can be seen by a health care professional or get to your nearest Emergency department, if needed.

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How ASEBP Supports You

Your ASEBP Extended Health Benefits cover allergy immunotherapy, either as sublingual administration (SLIT) or subcutaneous administration (SCIT) injection. Commonly prescribed SLIT products include Oralair, Ragwitek, and Grastek.

If you have ASEBP’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), you also have access to four cost-free hours of counselling or health support from mental health professionals and registered nurses to help you cope with your symptoms or create a plan to reduce your exposure to allergens.

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For more information, email or call us at 1-877-431-4786. You can also schedule a phone, video, or in-person meeting with a benefit specialist at

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