Last Updated: March 11, 2023
What causes allergies?1-3
Allergies are common and can develop at any age. Seasonal allergies occur during specific times of the year, generally in spring when allergens such as pollen from trees, grass and weed is released into the environment. Perennial allergies are present year round and are triggered by allergens such as dust. If you have an allergy, these allergens are perceived as foreign particles by your body and the immune system will try to get rid of them. As a result, your immune system will release a large amount of chemicals, such as histamines, into the body producing an allergic response of sneezing, coughing, nasal congestion, red eyes, itchy eyes, and watery eyes.
How do you treat allergies?3
Many treatment options are available and the type of treatment used depends on severity of the allergy symptoms. Over-the-counter oral medication and nasal spray can be helpful in relieving allergy symptoms. Prescription medications that combine antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer work best by providing both immediate and long-term relief. For those who suffer from severe symptoms, allergy shots may be the treatment of choice.
For individuals who experience ocular symptoms due to allergy, cold compresses and preservative-free eye drops may provide relief from red and itchy eyes. If ocular symptoms persist, consult your optometrist. Allergy and steroid eye drops may be prescribed to treat the symptoms. Recently, a new treatment method for allergies by using drug-delivering contact lenses became available in Canada.4 Talk to your optometrist to learn more about allergies.
How do you prevent allergies?3
Avoiding the allergen is the best way to prevent allergies. If you are not sure about what you are allergic to, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and you may be referred to an allergist for a skin or blood test.
Here are some tips on how to avoid allergens:
- Stay indoors during allergy season
- Wash hands, shower, and change clothes after coming in from outside
- Keep the windows closed in the home and car
- Turn on the air conditioner
- Use an air purifier
- Maintain clean filters in the furnace
- Change towels, pillow cases, and bedsheets frequently
- Statistics Canada. (2017). Chronic Conditions, 2017. Retrieved from Statistics Canada: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2018001/article/54983-eng.pdf
- Singh K et al. The epidemiology of ocular and nasal allergy in the United States, 1988-1994. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;126(4):778-783.
- Ono SJ et al. Allergic conjunctivitis: update on pathophysiology and prospects for future treatment. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005;115(1):118-122.
- Johnson & Johnson Vision. (2021). Johnson & Johnson Vision receives approval of world’s first and only drug-releasing combination contact lens for vision correction and allergic eye itch: ACUVUE® Theravision™ with Ketotifen. Retrieved from Johnson & Johnson Vision: https://www.jjvision.com/press-release/johnson-johnson-vision-receives-approval-worlds-first-and-only-drug-releasing