After a long winter spent indoors, many of us are ready to head outside to enjoy the warm weather. It’s that time of year again—spring is upon us, flowers are beginning to bloom, and nature is slowly coming to life.

But if you have asthma and allergies, chances are your symptoms are worsened during the spring. Allergens seem to be everywhere. Trees, grasses, weeds, and flowers start to release tiny particles in the air as they begin fertilizing other plants.

When these pollen particles cross paths with someone who is allergic or suffers from allergic rhinitis (a.k.a., “hay fever”), it kickstarts your immune system, causing uncomfortable symptoms.

Hay fever, an allergy to pollen, is one of the most common spring allergies. When pollen is lifted from trees, grasses, and weeds and carried by the spring wind, it can easily be inhaled and enter your respiratory system. Even if you can’t see pollen in the air, your body will react to small amounts.

Symptoms of hay fever includes coughing, wheezing, or sneezing, and your eyes may become red, itchy, and watery. You may know this from first-hand experience. However, there is good news! Your springtime festivities need not be defined by allergies or asthma attacks. There are many things you can do to stay healthy, avoid allergens, and enjoy the outdoors this spring.

1). Continue taking your prescribed medications

Your prescribed asthma medications are crucial for managing asthma, especially during allergy season. Your daily controller medication has a big impact on your long-term asthma control, and can help minimize your reaction to triggers like pollen. Trouble remembering to take your medication? Many people find it helpful to set a reminder in their phone.

It’s also important to always carry your reliever medication with you—especially outside—but be sure to only use it when you have asthma symptoms. If you need it twice a week or more for relief, your asthma is not well controlled.
• If you aren’t sure if your asthma is well-controlled and would like to learn more, take this short quiz!
• If you are a parent or caregiver to a child with asthma, remind them to carry their inhaler with them during spring activities like cycling, walking, or hiking.

2). Consider allergy medication

There are a variety of over-the-counter medications like nasal sprays, decongestants, or eye drops which can help you manage your allergies this spring. You can ask your healthcare provider what they recommend at your next appointment. If your allergies are significant, it may be worth discussing your symptoms with an allergy specialist, who will work with you to develop a plan so that you can continue enjoying your time outdoors without worry of an allergic reaction or asthma attack.

• Need help finding the best way to manage your allergies? Try out Asthma Canada’s Immunotherapy decision-making tool. This tool is designed to help you and your doctor compare the benefits, risks, and alternatives of different allergy medications and allergen immunotherapy.

3). Plan ahead!

Check your local Pollen Count and Air Quality Health Index before heading out for the day. Make sure to always keep your reliever inhaler on-hand, just in case!

It’s also worth preparing the right gear for a day outside ahead of time. Wear sunglasses, a hat, or even an N95-rated mask if pollen counts are high. Wear long pants if you will be in grassy areas. Plan your day around peak pollen times, which is typically between 5 to 10 a.m. and at dusk.

4). Reduce your exposure to allergens

Wearing the right clothing will help reduce your exposure to allergens. But even once you are back indoors, it is possible to bring pollen into your home. By keeping windows closed, washing your clothing, taking a hot shower, and cleaning any other gear you carried with you outdoors, you can breathe easy in your home.

In addition, check out asthma & allergy friendly® certified home products like air filters and bedding to ensure that you reduce exposure to allergens as much as possible.

5). Have questions? Ask for help!

You can always connect with a Certified Respiratory Educator through Asthma Canada’s Asthma & Allergy HelpLine. Call 1-866-787-4050 or email info@asthma.ca for personalized support and expertise.

Second, check out our Allergies and Asthma page to learn more about how asthma and allergies are related. Have a question that isn’t answered? Asthma Canada’s comprehensive Breathe Easy® Allergies guide is a valuable resource for understanding and managing your allergies.

You’re not alone if you have questions about COVID, asthma, and allergies. Learn more here.

Adapting these tips to your springtime outings will help minimize your exposure to allergens which means more time spent with your loved ones, and less time worrying about a sudden allergic reaction or asthma attack.

Enjoy time spent outside this spring, and stay healthy!