If you’re one of the 40 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, you know there’s no cure or magic pill — and depending on what you’re allergic to, your allergies can be a year-round problem. But, did you also know that if you don’t take care of your allergy symptoms, they can develop into more serious health problems including sinusitis, ear infections, and bronchitis?
Try these simple steps to help lower your exposure and ease your symptoms.
- Find out what you’re allergic to. Start taking your allergy medication(s) as prescribed two weeks before the ‘season’ is expected to start. (Note: Indoor allergens like dust mites, molds, animal dander, and cockroaches are year-round problems.)
- Check the pollen count in your area. Consider adjusting your indoor and outdoor activities to avoid exposure during peak times and days.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of liquids help thin the mucus in your nasal passages. Hot drinks are especially soothing.
- Baby your nasal membranes. Allergens often trigger nasal swelling and congestion — and non-stop nose blowing. Blow your nose gently to avoid causing an earache or infection, and use saline nasal sprays or nasal irrigation to help loosen things up and wash allergens out of nasal passages.
- Leave your shoes at the door. Avoid tracking allergens throughout your house. If pollen counts are high, change your clothes once you’re inside, too.
- Shower regularly. Shower and wash your hair at night to keep pollen out of your bed.
- Change your sheets. Wash your bedding weekly in hot water (≥140○) to kill dust mites. Use dust-proof pillow cases and mattress pad covers.
As I’m sure many of my fellow allergy sufferers will agree — this list is only the tip of the iceberg. Pharmacy shelves and websites are filled with more cures for allergies than ragweed pollen on a summer day. (Scientists estimate that a single ragweed plant releases one billion grains of pollen over the course of one ragweed season.) But use your common sense; there are just as many no- or low-cost steps you can take that may work equally well.
Have a tried-and-true allergy tip? We’d love to hear it!
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Allergy proof your life, Health.com
Help for Sinus Pain and Pressure, WebMD
Nasal Irrigation: Natural Relief for Cold & Allergy Symptoms, WebMD
12 Natural Ways to Beat Allergies, WebMD