Spring weather brings the promise of more opportunities to spend time outdoors, and is often a very welcome change in weather after a long Canadian winter! (Especially this winter, which many of us spent mostly cooped up indoors because of the pandemic.)


However, many Canadians with asthma also suffer from spring allergies, which can be challenging and a trigger for asthma symptoms. According to the Canadian Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation, one in every four or five Canadians has allergic rhinitis, also known as “hay fever.”

Hay fever is an allergy to pollen, and is very common. Pollens are generated by trees, grasses and weeds and are carried by the wind on warm, windy days. Airborne pollens are easily inhaled into your respiratory system, especially during warm-weather months. You may notice that you are coughing, wheezing or sneezing. Your eyes may be itchy, watery and red. This is known as allergic conjunctivitis, and often accompanies symptoms of hay fever.

Exposure to allergens can trigger asthma symptoms or even an asthma attack, but there are many things you can do to stay healthy. Read our spring season allergy management tips below to help enjoy the spring season!

1. Keep taking your prescribed medications

Make sure you’re taking your asthma medications as prescribed. Your daily controller medication has a huge impact on your long-term asthma control, and can help minimize your reaction to triggers like pollen. Many people find it helpful to set a reminder in their phone.

2. Consider allergy medications

It’s also a good idea to speak with your pharmacist or healthcare provider about allergy medications, too. An over-the-counter medication like a nasal spray, decongestant or even eye drops could go a long way to curb symptoms. If you have any concerns about your allergies, talk to your healthcare provider about having allergy testing done.

3. Plan ahead for heading outdoors 

*Bonus tip: it’s important not to solely rely on your reliever medication to manage your asthma (Find out if you are using your rescue inhaler too much with this short quiz)

  • If you are a parent or caregiver to a child with asthma, make sure they know to carry their inhaler with them during summer activities such as cycling, walking or hiking, and that they have proper inhaler technique.

*Bonus tip: If you know you’re going to be out on warmer days, make sure to keep your asthma medications out of direct sunlight and out of places that get especially hot like the glove compartment of your vehicle. Keep your medications close by and cool.

  • Check the Pollen Count and your local Air Quality Health Index before heading out.
  • Shower and change your clothes after spending time outdoors to reduce the amount of pollen you bring inside.

4. Find ways to reduce your exposure to allergens

  • Close doors and windows to your home when pollen counts are high.
  • Avoid drying clothes outside on high pollen-count days.
  • Consider exercising indoors on days that pollen counts are high. If you’re unable to alter your workout schedule and avoid being outside, make sure you pace yourself, reduce your level of exertion, and take frequent water breaks. You can learn more about exercising with asthma here. 

5. Ask for help when you need it

  • Refer to your Asthma Action Plan if you notice your symptoms becoming more frequent, and reach out to your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment to review your asthma control, if necessary. Whether or not you have mild or Severe Asthma, having an Asthma Action Plan is crucial in helping you manage your asthma safely. It’s a personalized program that can be used to identify when your asthma is flaring up and the steps you need to take to manage it.
  • Learn more about asthma and allergies.
  • Reach out to Asthma Canada’s Asthma & Allergy HelpLine if you have questions about your asthma and/or allergies. You can connect with one of our Certified Respiratory Educators today  for personalized support by calling 1-866-787-4050 or emailing info@asthma.ca.

If you have questions about COVID, asthma and allergies, you’re not alone. It’s important to understand what are normal allergy symptoms, and what may be a symptoms of COVID-19. The graphic below can help you determine what symptoms are indicative of COVID-19, and which are asthma and allergy symptoms. You can learn more about asthma & COVID-19 here.

Enjoy the warmer weather! Take care and stay safe and healthy!