Quality of life


Flowers are in bloom, lawns are getting mowed and trees are bursting with new leaves and flowers, and once again your eyes water, your nose runs, and the sneezes keep coming. It’s beautiful outside Canada! You waited all winter for the nice weather and warm sun, but you end up miserable whenever you go outside.


Is it a cold? But this cold happens every spring

This cold happens every spring, and for many throughout the summer and/or into the fall. Every year, you have the same symptoms in spring, summer or fall. What could be causing this? Could it be something in the air?

You may have seasonal allergies also known as pollen allergies or hay fever. Tap our new app to get our pollen forecasts and to monitor your symptoms so we can help you. Access our program for free for the rest of the 2016 pollen season.

What causes seasonal allergies

Most trees, plants and fungal spores, including ragweed, grasses, and oak trees, make a fine powder called pollen that’s light enough to travel through the air. This is how these plants grow and reproduce themselves.

Effects of pollen on people’s health

An allergic reaction is when a person’s immune system over reacts to an innocuous substance like food, pet dander, chemicals or pollen.

In the case of seasonal allergies, the body is reacting to pollen or fungal spores in the air causing symptoms such as a runny nose and watery eyes. Reactions to allergens often play an important role in asthma. Common symptoms of allergic rhinitis and asthma include;

  • Runny nose and mucus production
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears, and mouth
  • Stuffy nose
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

How it is getting worse

Now, thanks to climate change and increasing carbon dioxide levels, each year’s pollen season gets worse.

According to a 2014 report by the National Climate Assessment, longer growing seasons, along with higher temperatures and carbon dioxide levels, can increase pollen production, intensifying and lengthening the allergy season.

Scientific American’s podcast Science Talk discusses how allergies are on the rise possibly because of what’s called the hygiene hypothesis. As people start living in more sterile and urban environments their immune systems aren’t exposed to microbes and don’t know what to do when they encounter allergens or bacteria, making allergies and auto-immune diseases more prevalent.

But it seems the hygiene hypothesis can’t explain everything about the increase in pollen allergies. Researchers found that specific sensitivity to ragweed pollen, which up to 20 % of Americans are allergic to, increased by 15% over a four year period.

pollen chart

As you can see in the graph pollen levels have been getting worse each year across the globe for at least the last 20 years, as carbon dioxide levels rise.


Why it is important to understand pollen levels

It’s important to realize that the pollen counts have different meanings for different people. Is a person allergic to the pollen in question? What types of allergy symptoms does that person have in response to pollen exposure? How sensitive is that person to the pollen?

Join our pollen alert subscription program now