AAIQ   The Association of Allergists and Immunologists of Québec

Pollen allergy

Pollens are present in the atmosphere and cause symptoms in susceptible individuals. Pollens are lightweight, dispersed by the wind, and are virtually impossible to avoid completely.

You can reduce the intensity of your symptoms by following certain recommendations during the following active periods:

  • Tree pollens (maple, birch, oak, ash, beech, poplar, elm): March-April to June
  • Grass pollens : May to August
  • Ragweed pollens (ambrosia) and armoise (Mugwort) : August to October
Timothy grass
Short ragweed

The following is recommended in order to reduce your exposure to these typse of allergens:

  • Avoid mowing or clearing grass, or being present during these activities. Avoid hay, fields, and wild or unmaintained terrain.
  • It is recommended to keep your windows closed, so air-conditioning is a good option..
  • Pay attention to air exchangers that may permit pollen grains to enter the house.
  • Certain foods such as bananas, peaches, melons, apples and certain nuts can trigger symptoms of rhinitis or cause itching of the lips, the chin, and the throat. In these cases, you should stop eating the fresh fruit, but generally it will be tolerated if cooked or canned. See the section on the Pollen-food syndrome.
  • Avoid fresh-cut or dried flowers in the house.
  • Chlorine from swimming pools can worsen symptoms of rhinitis and conjunctivitis when in contact with mucous membranes that are already irritated from allergies.
  • Avoid wearing contact lenses during periods of eye irritation.
  • Avoid drying clothes outside during the problem seasons.

It is also important to note that people who suffer from allergic rhinitis may be more susceptible to strong odors (perfums, detergents) and to smoke (fireplace or cigarettes). These are known as irritants, and may trigger symptoms similar to those caused by allergies (both asthma and rhinitis).


Simon Hotte, MD FRCPC (text)
John Weisnagel, MD (photos)
(translation: Andrew Moore, MD FRCPC)