Pet allergy, hay fever and allergic rhinitis are a diagnosis associated with a group of symptoms affecting the nose. These symptoms occur when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust, animal dander, or pollen.
In Canada there are five environmental allergy seasons:
• the tree pollen season (spring),
• grasses and mould season (midsummer),
• the weed pollen season (fall),
• indoor allergy season (anytime but generally winter), and
• the pet allergy season.
Allergies are the result of an immune system that is overly sensitive to certain common elements in your environment. A substance that causes or triggers a reaction is called an allergen. The incidence of them and our individual sensitivity to each allergen varies across Canada and with environmental circumstances. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid.
Allergic reactions are distinctive because of excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils by a type of antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This reaction results in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous.
Allergic rhinitis may be seasonal or perennial. Seasonal allergic rhinitis occurs in particular during pollen seasons. It does not usually develop until after 6 years of age.
Perennial allergic rhinitis occurs throughout the year. This type of allergic rhinitis is commonly seen in younger children.
About one in four of us suffer from one or more of these seasons. The degree of suffering varies with each of us. Symptoms are considered mild when sleep is normal, there is no impairment of daily activities, no impairment of work or school, and if symptoms are not troublesome. Severe symptoms result in sleep disturbance, impairment of daily activities, and impairment of school or work.