If you suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever and allergic rhinitis, your symptoms can make you feel miserable. But before you wrap yourself in a hazmat suit, try these simple strategies to keep your seasonal allergies under control.
Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers
Reduce your exposure to the allergens that trigger your allergy symptoms:
- Stay indoors – especially on windy, dry days. The best time to go outside is during the cool, calm morning hours or after a pollen-clearing rain shower.
- If you’re a home owner, hire a lawn service to avoid to gardening chores that stir up allergy symptoms such as mowing the lawn or pulling weeds.
- If you do find yourself outdoors, make sure you remove clothing you’ve worn outside and take a shower to rinse off pollen from your body and hair to reduce allergy symptoms.
- Avoid drying laundry outdoors, especially on the dry windy days, as tree and grass pollen can stick to clothes, bedding and towels and cause allergy symptoms.
Be Aware of Pollen in the Air
During the Spring, Summer, and Fall months, many seasonal allergy symptoms can flare up when there’s a lot of pollen in the air. Apply these steps to help you reduce your exposure to allergy symptoms when plant pollen peaks:
- Watch and listen to local TV or radio stations, your local newspaper, or check the Internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen counts.
- If high pollen counts are forecasted, avoid your exposure whenever possible and take allergy medication as directed. Some require a constant level in your blood stream and may take days to get you to the levels you need to avoid the worst symptoms.
- Do not keep doors and windows open at night or during times when pollen counts are high. Use air conditioning whenever possible.
- Use a nose rinse after spending time outdoors to remove allergens and make sure you have immediate-use eye wash and nose sprays for faster relief of your worse flare ups.
- Use pollen trapping air filters in your furnace and change them regularly. Most home and hardware stores carry these.
There are many Over-the-counter (nonprescription) medications available that can help reduce allergy symptoms including:
- Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy) and fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy).
- Decongestants. Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol, others) can provide temporary relief from nasal congestion. Decongestants are also available in handy nasal sprays such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine). These immediate-use decongestants should only be used as a short-term treatment of your symptoms – only use them as for a few days to avoid rebound congestion as long-term use of nasal sprays can actually worsen your symptoms.
- Nasal spray. Use Cromolyn sodium nasal spray before outdoor activity to prevent allergy symptoms such as Over-the-counter Nasalcrom or Nasalcort.
- Combination medications. Some allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Examples include loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D) and fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D).
Keep your sinuses clear
Rinse your nasal passages with saline solution to relieve allergy symptoms such as, nasal congestion and eliminate mucus and allergens.
Use a squeeze bottle such as NeilMed Sinus Rinse or a neti pot – which is a tea-kettle shaped container with a spout designed for nasal rinsing. Both are available at your local pharmacy or online.
To reduce the risk of infection, only use water that’s distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered to make the saline irrigation solution. Also, be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air-dry. Replace these inexpensive devices every 90 days.
Need more help? See your doctor
If your allergy syptoms don’t ease with the use of the above remedies, it may be time to see your doctor or allergist.
Your doctor or allergist can recommend a skin or blood test to determine exactly what allergens are triggering your symptoms. You may be allergic to pets and other things that may be causing an allergic reaction – such as food or dust – and can prescribe a more powerful antihistamine or medication available only with a prescription.
Many of today’s OTC items are available in prescription strength and generic version may be a more cost-effective solution.