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Seasonal allergies affect about 15% of all Canadians. The symptoms that commonly occur are: runny nose (usually clear discharge), stuffy nose, runny or watery eyes, sneezing (usually in bouts) and sometimes headaches. It is always important to assess if the symptoms indicate allergies or other conditions such as a sinus infection or the common cold. You should speak with your pharmacist or physician before seeking any treatment.

If you are diagnosed with seasonal allergies, you can do a number of things to help you deal with your symptoms. First, try to identify what causes your symptoms to be worse. Once you find this out, avoid these “allergens” as much as possible. This might sometimes be difficult but it is an important part of treating allergies. Keeping windows and doors closed to the outside and filtering the air using an air conditioner can often help. Cleaning and vacuuming frequently should also keep pollen and mould counts down in the home. Make sure the humidity in the house is between 35 and 50% to again reduce the chances of moulds growing in the home.

If doing these things are not enough to control your allergies, then speak with your pharmacist. There are several products you can take to help deal with your symptoms. Antihistamines, decongestants, cromolyn, corticosteroids and immunotherapy can all be used. Certain medications are more effective for different people, depending on their symptoms. Even though many of these products are available without a prescription, it is important to remember that these are medications that can interact with other over-the-counter products, prescription products, vitamins and herbal products. Please ask your pharmacist for advice on choosing the right product for you.