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Double-whammy for allergy sufferers with snow mould and very-high pollen forecast

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Many welcome the signs of spring but for some it’s a season of sneezing and allergy sufferers in southern Alberta might soon experience more symptoms due to both snow mould and the start of the pollen season.

Aerobiology Research Laboratories (ARL), which provides pollen forecasts for many Canadian cities, predicts very high pollen levels from trees in the Calgary area over the next several weeks.

“It’s going to be very high for poplar in the next week or so,” said Daniel Coates, director of marketing and business development at Aerobiology Research Laboratories.

“Birch is extremely allergenic and it's going to be starting  ... second week of May,” said Coates.

“It’s been pushed a little bit later because of that cold start, but that's what really gets allergy sufferers going.”

COOL START

The cool start to spring meant a slow start to the allergy season in the prairies but there’s a chance it could come fast and furious now.

“You might have a shorter season with higher volume,” said Coates.

Up to nine million Canadians and one million dogs face seasonal allergies, according to ARL.

Those with allergies may react to a variety of sources including elm, cedar, juniper, maple, alder, birch, ragweed, grass, spores and moulds.

Mould, which grows under snow is released when it melts. Spores in that mould can be carried in the wind and travel a long distance.

Allergy symptoms include itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, a light cough or sneezing.

Pharmacists recommend antihistamines, nasal sprays and eye drops.

"If the oral tablet doesn't cover and do enough, then we can also target more precisely, like the nasal symptoms and the eyes symptoms,” said Mathieu Giroux, a pharmacist with Cambrian Pharmacy.

He said supply-chain issues have subsided for these types of medication.

“Allergy medication, allergy drops, (that) supply seems to be pretty good for now.”

Wearing wraparound sunglasses, removing outdoor clothes and shoes and showering after being outside can help.

Paying attention to the pollen forecast and staying inside when levels are high could also help people avoid symptoms.

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