Allergies: Nothing to sneeze at


As spring brings warmer weather our way and plants begin a new year of growth, many people will find themselves experiencing the symptoms of seasonal allergies. If you are one of those allergy sufferers, you may be wondering what causes allergies and what you can do to prevent or manage the symptoms.

What causes allergies?

An allergy is a condition that has both hereditary and environmental factors. On the hereditary side, you can inherit a tendency to develop an allergy to a particular substance. On the environmental side, your body can react to substances you encounter in your home, inside other buildings, or outdoors.

Allergies occur when your immune system responds to substances (known as allergens) and triggers an allergic reaction. When your body comes into contact with an allergen, it releases chemicals such as histamine into your bloodstream. Histamine helps your body eliminate the allergens, and it is this process that causes symptoms such as itching, sneezing, watery eyes, and hives.

There are a number of allergens that trigger allergic reactions. Common ones are:

  • Animal dander comes from pets. Pets with fur or feathers can shed flecks of dead skin, and these particles can float in the air in your home and cause you to experience an allergic reaction.
  • Dust mites are tiny bugs that can collect on soft furnishings and household items such as pillows, mattresses, carpets, and children’s stuffed toys, where they can be easily breathed into your body.
  • Mould is a type of fungus that results from high humidity levels and excessive water. Mould is most commonly found in poorly ventilated bathrooms and basements.
  • Pollen is a powdery substance produced by grass, weeds, flowering shrubs, and trees. In Canada, the level of tree pollen peaks in late spring, and the grass and weed pollens peak in the summer and fall.  The amount of pollen in the air is monitored at stations across Canada, and this is reported as the pollen count. The higher the pollen count on a particular day, the more likely it is that people sensitive to pollen will have an allergic reaction. Most local TV and radio news reports provide the pollen count in their area. The Weather Network also provides information on the pollen count for some locations. To find the information for your area, search the web for The Weather Network Allergy Outlook plus your city or province.

One of the most common types of allergies is allergic rhinitis, commonly called hay fever. It affects primarily the eyes and nose when your body comes in contact with allergens. If you suffer from hay fever, you will want to pay particular attention to the pollen count in your area.

Allergy symptoms

Allergy symptoms can develop within minutes of your coming in contact with an allergen or they may develop over a few hours. Common allergy symptoms include:

  • Congestion, which may lead to headache
  • Ear popping or feeling of fullness
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and roof of the mouth
  • Postnasal drip (excess buildup of mucus that drips down the back of the throat)
  • Pressure in the nose and cheeks
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing

Other symptoms may include allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation of the tissue lining the eyelids) and sinusitis (inflammation of the air cavities within the nose).

Preventing allergies

One way to prevent seasonal allergies is to limit your exposure to pollen. Here are some tips that will help.

  • Pay attention to the pollen forecast in your area and avoid being outside for long periods of time when the pollen count is high.
  • Keep the windows in your house closed and close the windows in your car shut while you’re driving.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend outside, especially during midday and the afternoon, when pollen counts tend to be highest.
  • When you have to go outside during times when pollen counts are high, wear a pollen mask or a dust mask.
  • After you come indoors, rinse your eyes with cool water of saline eyedrops to remove any pollen that may be clinging to you.
  • Take a shower and change your clothes after working or playing outdoors.

Treating allergy symptoms

No matter how hard you work to prevent triggering an allergy, you may be one of those people who still suffers from allergy symptoms, but there are still steps you can take to reduce the discomfort. For example, you can clear a stuffy nose by flushing your sinuses, using a humidifier in your bedroom, and taking hot showers.

Your London Drugs pharmacists can recommend a variety of over-the-counter products to help relieve allergy symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and pain. Common types of nonprescription allergy medicines include:

  • Antihistamines, which stop sneezing, runny noses, and itching
  • Decongestants, which help clear up a stuffy nose
  • Antihistamine/decongestant combinations, which work on most allergy symptoms
  • Decongestant eyedrops, which reduce itching and watering of the eyes

There is no reason to suffer from allergies when preventive measures and remedies are available. We can help.

Don’t Suffer From Your Seasonal Allergies

As the weather warms, Mother Nature unleashes a storm of airborne allergens that cause teary eyes and stuffy noses in people who suffer from seasonal allergies, and there are a lot of us who do. In fact, nearly one-quarter of Canadians experience seasonal allergies. Specific allergy inducers vary from region to region and season to season, but tree and weed pollens are among the major offenders. Although not all of them are connected to a particular season, the ten most common allergy triggers across Canada are:

• air pollution
• dust mites (which thrive in humid weather)
• grasses
• insect bites
• mildew
• mould
• pets
• ragweed
• trees
• weeds

When pollen or other triggers are released into the air, we can inhale them, and they can travel into our nasal passages. When we are allergic to a substance we’ve breathed in, our immune system identifies it as an invader and sends out a chemical called histamine to attack it. Our reaction to the histamine is one of the causes of allergy symptoms.

We can begin to develop allergy symptoms at any time of life – in childhood, during our teen years, or even in adulthood. These symptom may include:

• Eyes that are puffy, red or watery
• Itchy eyes, nose or ears
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Frequent sneezing
• Dark circles under the eyes

Some people describe seasonal allergies as feeling like you have a bad cold that never goes away.

Treating Seasonal Allergies

It can be very difficult to eliminate the symptoms of seasonal allergies, but there are steps you can take to manage them. There are both prescription and over-the-counter medicines that can ease the symptoms. Examples include:

• Antihistamines are available as oral medicines, nasal sprays, and eye drops that help relieve sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes.

• Decongestants can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness and are available in oral dosage forms, nasal sprays, and eye drops.

• Combination products contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant to provide broader relief of symptoms.

• Cromolyn sodium, which can also ease symptoms, comes in various dosage forms, including nasal spray and eye drops.

• Nasal corticosteroids, a type of nasal spray, reduce inflammation in the nose and block allergic reactions.

• Leukotriene receptor antagonists block the action of chemicals other than histamine that play a role in allergic reactions. These must be taken every day to prevent symptoms before they occur.

• Allergy shots are injections given over a period of time to reduce, or sometimes even eliminate, allergy attacks. Each injection contains a tiny amount of a particular allergen that triggers your allergic reaction. The shot contains just enough of the allergen to stimulate your immune system, but not enough to cause a full reaction. Over time, the amount of the allergen in the shot is increased, and this helps your body get used to the allergen, making you less sensitive to it and less likely to have a reaction to it.

• Allergen tablets are now available. You can take them to increase your tolerance to grass and ragweed pollens. They are taken for about 12 weeks before grass pollen season starts and continued throughout the season.

• Nasal irrigation: In addition to these medications, some people find relief from saline nasal irrigation, which can relive nasal congestion by flushing mucus and allergens from the nose.

Reducing your exposure to allergens can also make it easier to get through allergy season. Here are some helpful tips:

• Avoid outdoor activity early in the morning when pollen counts are at their highest.

• Close doors and windows at night and at any other time when the pollen count is high.

• Don’t hang laundry outside to dry; pollen can stick to sheets and towels.

• When you come in from being outdoors, remove your clothes and shower to rinse the pollen from your skin and hair.

• Use the air conditioner in your home and car rather than opening the windows.

• Try wearing a mask if you must do chores outside.

If you have questions about allergy treatments or if you need help selecting a product to relieve your symptoms, your London Drugs pharmacists are always happy to help you.

Allergy Season is Here: How to Identify and Treat Your Symptoms

Budding blooms, runny noses and itchy eyes are often the tell-tale signs that allergy season has officially arrived. But with this year’s allergy season coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic, it has never been more important for seasonal allergy sufferers to be proactive about symptom management. It is also important to be aware of the difference between seasonal allergy symptoms and those caused by viral infections like the coronavirus or a cold.

Treating Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

While many people think of allergy medication as reactive, allergy sufferers should instead begin taking the medication before experiencing symptoms. Allergy medications can take a few weeks to become fully effective so by taking them proactively, you can save yourself a lot of suffering as the season intensifies.

Treating a variety of allergy symptoms can be a complex process, and it is important to choose the right medications, whether that is antihistamines, decongestants, sinus rinses, nasal sprays, eye drops or a combination. Pharmacists can help you differentiate seasonal allergy symptoms from other health issues, and determine the best treatment to target specific allergens and symptoms.

Allergen avoidance is another way to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. Our pharmacists encourage allergy sufferers to keep windows shut and run air conditioning to recirculate air. Check daily pollen forecasts and limit outside exposure when pollen counts are at their highest. Consider using a HEPA filter at home to help reduce common allergens in the air such as mold, pollen, animal dander and dust mites.

Seasonal Allergy vs. Coronavirus Symptoms

While a wide variety of symptoms have been reported in connection with coronavirus, the two most common symptoms are a high fever and a cough. Seasonal allergies do not cause fever and, unless you have pre-existing asthma, they do not cause symptoms like shortness of breath. Symptoms more common of seasonal allergies include itchy or watery eyes and sneezing.

Symptoms of COVID-19 vary significantly from person to person. Some people may experience mild symptoms, while others have more severe symptoms. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, self- isolate immediately, avoid contact with others and get tested for COVID-19.

Seasonal Allergy vs. Cold Symptoms

The similarities between cold symptoms and allergy symptoms can make it difficult to tell which condition to treat. While allergies and the common cold share many symptoms, those who experience seasonal allergies generally suffer from itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose. Symptoms of a cold may include aches and pains, a sore throat, and in some cases a fever and chills, which are not typical of seasonal allergies. A cold will generally only last about a week or two, whereas seasonal allergies will have much longer-lasting symptoms.

Have more questions? Visit the pharmacy at your local London Drugs, where our knowledgeable and experienced pharmacists can help answer any questions you might have about seasonal allergies and symptom management.

If you become ill and think you may have COVID-19, do not visit the pharmacy. Isolate yourself at home. You can access your province’s self-assessment tool at Contact your healthcare provider for advice on how to relieve the symptoms.


Managing Seasonal Allergies

No one enjoys the prospect of allergy symptoms returning as soon as the warm weather arrives, but for children, the itching, runny nose and inability to play with their friends is doubly upsetting. Parents too suffer from seeing their little ones unable to fully enjoy themselves when experiencing the great outdoors.

Although catching colds and other viruses is a child’s rite of passage, allergies can often be confused with colds, leading to poor management. In general, if your child has no fever, and the sniffles and sneezing hang around for weeks, an allergy is likely the cause. Sneezing that continues indefinitely, with a stuffy or runny nose and itchy, watery eyes, may signal the presence of allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.

An allergic reaction is the body’s response to a specific substance, or allergen. The immune system responds to the allergen by releasing histamine and other chemical responders that trigger symptoms. If you yourself have allergies, the risk factor for your son or daughter increases by 50 per cent, and if both parents have allergies, this increases to 75 per cent. Learning how to best manage your little one’s allergies means minimum disturbance to his or her enjoyment of life.

Managing Childhood Hay fever

Childhood allergies can best be managed by controlling environmental triggers and providing appropriate medication. Non-prescription allergy medications for children work by blocking histamine, which reduces or puts a halt to the unpleasant symptoms. Ways to minimize potential allergens include the following:

  • Know what your child is allergic to. Hay fever is most commonly caused by grasses, but tree and weed pollens can also trigger symptoms.
  • Be aware of pollen counts in your area (these may be found in your local newpaper, or online). Arrange your child’s play and activities to minimize exposure on days when the count is high.
  • Since pollen is released mainly in the mornings, levels are highest then, and again in the evenings, as pollen settles. Make sure your child is indoors at these times.
  • If your child has been playing outside for some time, be sure to give a shower, or wash exposed areas of skin and hair. Place clothes worn outside in the wash.
  • Keep your child inside as much as possible on windy days, and keep the windows closed. Use A/C in the car if you have it, rather than leave the windows open.

Spring Allergy Season Has Arrived: How to Survive It

Tips for Surviving Allergy Season

Allergy sufferers should start taking medications now to stay one step ahead of symptoms

Experts at Aerobiology Research Laboratories who specialize in pollen and spore identification and research in Canada say there has been a late start to allergy season, but that it has arrived in British Columbia with the rest of Canada not far behind.

The aeroallergen monitoring firm collects pollen samples daily at collection sites across Canada and looks at when pollens are present in the air in each city, assessing the average pollen season length and the number of very high pollen days.

Last year, the average allergy season length across Canada was 115 days, with Victoria, Vancouver, Burnaby, Hamilton, and Brampton experiencing the longest seasons.

Pollen counts across Canada

Tree pollen allergy season start and end dates across Canada last year with number of very high pollen days in each city. Pharmacists recommend that allergy sufferers should start taking their medication about two weeks prior to the start of allergy season as some medications can take a few weeks to become fully effective.

For allergy suffers, the arrival of pollen in the air underlines the importance of taking allergy medications proactively, says London Drugs Pharmacist Craig Forster, in this CTV News story.

Some medications can take a few weeks to become fully effective, so ideally, allergy sufferers should start taking their medication two weeks prior to the start of allergy season to stay one step ahead of symptoms.

A new survey conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs found that four in 10 (40%) Canadians don’t start taking their allergy medications early enough. This includes three in 10 (29%) who say they only take allergy medication when they start to feel symptoms and one in 10 (11%) who take them only when they notice symptoms are not going away. Just seven per cent take them either right at the start of allergy season or two weeks beforehand.

Is it Allergies or Is It a Cold?

One underlining issue is that some people mistake early allergy season symptoms with a cold. The similarities between cold symptoms and allergy symptoms can make it difficult to tell which condition to treat.

The survey underscores Canadians’ confusion, as 65 per cent mistake allergy symptoms for a cold. Most respondents identified the symptoms of a cold as coughing (88%), sneezing (83%), sore throat (83%), runny/stuffy nose (79%), and chest congestion (70%).

When thinking of allergies, most respondents associate them with itchy or watery eyes (93%), sneezing (90%), and a runny/stuffy nose (78%). Fewer than half recognize the other symptoms shown as a sign of allergies, such as itchy ears and throat, wheezing, and long-lasting symptoms.

Although allergies and the common cold share many symptoms, patients experiencing seasonal allergies generally suffer from itchy watery eyes and a runny nose. Symptoms of a cold may include aches and pains, a sore throat, and perhaps a fever and chills, which are not typical of seasonal allergies. A cold will generally only last about a week or two, whereas seasonal allergies will have longer-lasting symptoms.

For allergies, treatments may include antihistamines, decongestants, sinus rinses, nasal sprays, or eye drops.

Pharmacists at London Drugs can help distinguish your symptoms and recommend the right course of treatment based on the severity, your past response to medications, and any other medical conditions.

Visit your local London Drugs and speak with a pharmacist to learn more.

5 Reasons Your Pharmacist is Awesome

Everyone knows that your pharmacist is the expert in filling your prescriptions, but everyone may not know that they provide many other super helpful services as well. We’re celebrating World Pharmacists Day by shining a light on all of the ways your friendly, neighbourhood London Drugs pharmacist can help you maintain and improve your health.

1. They can give you your jabs

Getting immunized isn’t exactly fun, but pharmacists can take the sting out of it by making it easy and convenient. If you’re planning a trip overseas, your pharmacist can help you prepare by reviewing your immunization history, letting you know which vaccines you’ll need for your destination, administering them, and issuing you an International Certificate of Vaccination if you need it.

London Drugs’ Certified Injection Pharmacists are also able to administer influenza vaccinations, as well as the Zostavax vaccine for Shingles.

If you would like to get a vaccination at a London Drugs pharmacy, just ask for more information at the pharmacy counter.

2. They give great advice

Although sometimes necessary, getting in to see a doctor can be time-consuming and complicated. If you’re looking for quick advice about minor ailments or wellness, your pharmacist can be your first stop on the road to good health. You can meet with a London Drugs pharmacist one-on-one to get trusted health advice on anything from allergy relief, diabetes management, nutrition, cough and cold remedies, pain management, stomach health, and eye care. Here’s the best part–no appointment necessary!

3. They help with the kids

Becoming a new parent can be scary, especially if you think something is wrong with your precious little bundle. If you have questions about your child’s health, pharmacists are an accessible resource. They can recommend over-the-counter medications that are safe for your children and provide information on proper dosage to help you treat common baby health conditions such as diaper rash, eczema, cradle cap, constipation, pain and fever, rashes, teething and more. Pharmacists can also refer your child to a doctor or other health professional if they feel your little bundle of joy requires a closer look.

4. They can help you find out for sure

You can never be too careful with your health, and pharmacists make it easier to put your mind at ease. Health screenings are a great way to take control of your health, and London Drugs provides the following convenient screening services and clinics at most of our locations:

5. They care about the community

Pharmacists are not only healthcare professionals, they are caring members of the community that they serve.

For example, last year during the British Columbia wildfire crisis, they provided life-saving services in the affected communities. While London Drugs helped assemble essential supplies and support staff, London Drugs pharmacists assisted those affected by accessing medical histories and contacted insurance providers to ensure quick access to essential medications for people who had to evacuate their homes.

Do you have a great story about how your super-pharmacist saved the day? Share it with us in the comments or on Twitter! #ilovemypharmacist

HEPA Air Purifier Contest

The Honeywell® True HEPA Allergen Remover is designed for large rooms.  Honeywell Air Purifiers are the #1 brand recommended by Allergists.3 This console air purifier will provide cleaner, fresher air in larger rooms while still looking sleek and not taking up too much space.  The True HEPA filter effectively captures up to 99.97% of microscopic allergens as small as 0.3 microns.1  It also features an auto VOC sensor that operates the air purifier automatically. The highly effective filters help reduce odors, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and certain germs.1,2

Your Bluetooth® Smart v4.0 compatible iPhone® or Android™ device can be used as a remote control for your air purifier. You can operate your air purifier from another room in your home within 30 feet of the Bluetooth® Smart device. The App also offers additional features not available on any standard air purifiers, such as proximity sensing for auto shut-off/turn on, air quality alerts and auto-operation based on conditions in your zip code and operation scheduling.  Simply download the free App to your compatible mobile device.

How the air purifier works:  a fan continuously draws in airborne pollutants.  The dirty air passes through the activated carbon pre-filter that traps large particles and absorbs VOCs, gases and odors.  The air then passes through the HEPA filter that captures the really small particles, such as dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke, mold spores and more.  The filtered, cleaner and fresher smelling air is then circulated back into the room.

Together with Honeywell, we’re excited to be giving away one Honeywell True HEPA Air Purifier with Bluetooth! See below for full Terms & Conditions and how to enter.



London Drugs Facebook Contest Terms & Conditions

To enter: Comment with how an air purifier would benefit your family on the Honeywell HEPA Air Purifier Contest Facebook post.

Contest is open to all residents of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba who, as of the date the prize draw is made: (i) have not won a London Drugs contest since June 1st, 2017; (ii) have reached the age of majority in the province in which they reside as of June 1st, 2018; (iii) are not employees of London Drugs, their respective advertising and promotional agencies, the independent judging organization (if any), or any family member living with any such employee.

No purchase necessary. Limit one (1) entry per person per social network per contest. Entries must be received no later than 11:59 PM Pacific Time on June 15th, 2018. London Drugs is not responsible for entries that become lost or misdirected. All entries become the property of London Drugs Limited and will not be returned.

One (1) winner will be randomly chosen on the day the contest ends (see dates below) in Vancouver, British Columbia, from all eligible entries received per contest. To win, selected entrants must correctly answer a skill-testing mathematical question and must sign London Drugs’ declaration and release confirming compliance with the contest rules and acceptance of the prize(s) as awarded, releasing London Drugs from liability in association with the contest and prize and consenting to the use of their name, photograph, voice and statements for promotional and publicity purposes.

There will be one (1) prize of one Honeywell Bluetooth HEPA Air Purifier ($299.99). See details and contest date below. Prizes must be accepted as awarded, are non-transferable and no substitutions are permitted. Prizes will be awarded at the closest London Drugs location to contest winners.

Contest date – Friday, June 1st, 2018 – Friday, June 15th, 2018, 11:59 PM Pacific Time

Draw date – Monday, June 18th, 2018

Only one prize may be won by any one person and household. In the event that any selected entrant incorrectly answers the skill-testing question or is otherwise unwilling or unable to comply in full with these rules, a new entry will be drawn.

Selected winners will be contacted by email or on the social network they were drawn from. No correspondence will be entered into except with selected entrants. If the winners do not respond then they will be notified for the second time, 3 (three) days after the first notification. If the winners still do not respond within 3 days of the second notification, a new winner will be chosen in the same manner until a winner is successfully contacted.

The chances of winning a prize will depend on the number of eligible entries received. Decisions of the judges in respect of all aspects of this contest including, but not limited to, eligibility of entries and correctness of answers given to the skill-testing question, are final.

London Drugs and their respective advertising and promotional agencies, the independent judging organization, and their respective agents are not liable to an entrant in any manner relating to the contest or the awarding and use of the prize(s).

This contest is subject to all federal, provincial, and municipal laws and regulations. By entering the entrant consents to the collection of all personal information included on their entry and agrees to the use and disclosure of such information by and between London Drugs, an independent judging organization, and their agents. The winner(s) also agrees to the collection, use, and disclosure of their name, entry, photographs, voice, and statements for London Drugs’ publicity purposes without further compensation. All personal information collected from entrants will be used only for the purposes of administering the contest and for marketing and promotional purposes as contemplated by these rules; under no circumstances will any personal information be sold or rented to third parties. All personal information collected by London Drugs will be kept in accordance with the privacy policy of London Drugs, which can be viewed at, and in accordance with all applicable privacy laws.

The right is reserved by London Drugs to terminate this contest, in whole or in part, and/or modify, amend or suspend the contest, and/or these rules in any way, should any cause beyond the reasonable control of London Drugs or its agents affect the proper administration thereof.



  1. From the air that passes through the filter, 0.3 microns and larger
  2. Based on independent testing report 100954017COL-001
  3. Based on the Nov. 2014 Cascade Survey Research results reporting 80 out of 84 (95%) surveyed Allergists that recommend a brand of portable air purifiers to their patients, recommend “Honeywell” air purifiers.
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