A Complainer’s Guide to Allergy Season

Does your annual battle with pollen feel like the same misery, different year? We teamed up with our friends at The Doctors for surprising fixes for your biggest gripes.

A Complainer's Guide to Allergy Season

I love spring, but I don’t dare venture outside for long.
When the sound of birds chirping instantly triggers a runny nose, you know your allergies are bad. To minimize your worst symptoms, don’t go outside when pollen counts are highest, between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., and in hot, dry or windy weather. One of the best times to enjoy the great outdoors is after a rain shower – the weater washes pollen out of the air, says Stanley Fineman, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. If you take allergy meds, dose up before you head outside.

I vacuum regularly, but it’s not helping my symptoms.
If you don’t have a high-intensity particulate air (HEPA) filtre in your vacuum, you may be making your symptoms worse by stirring up pollen that has settled on your floor, says Selen Gierer, DO, an allergy expert at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. Using HEPA filtres in your air conditioner or heating system can also help ease allergy symptoms. Some experts suggest placing a freestanding air purifier with a HEPA filtre in a high-traffic area.

Antihistamines help, but they make me groggy.
Active ingredients vary among OTC antihistamines, so switching to a medication that contains loratadine (Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) may also help you feel more alert. Or you can take your meds at night so the drowsy effect occurs while you’re sleeping, suggests Travis Stork, MD, from The Doctors. You can also try eyedrops and nasal sprays, which can be less sedating. If nothing works, ask your doctor if a prescription corticosteroid, which won’t cause drowsiness, could help.

I get tired of taking all those drugs.
Try rinsing your sinuses with a saline solution of distilled water and non-ionized salt. This method won’t take the place of medication, but it could reduce your need for drugs. IN one study, participants who rinsed their sinuses twice a day for three to six weeks reported less nasal congestion than those who didn’t. (See below for more natural remedies.)

My nasal spray makes my runny nose worse.
You may be using it too much. If you use a nasal spray longer than the directions suggest (usually about 72 hours)you can develop rhinitis medicamentosa, a “rebound” condition in which your nasal linings swell when you don’t spray.

Natural Allergy Remedies

The Doctors offer these DIY symptom soothers. Ask your physician whether the treatments are right for you.

Peppermint Ice
Make ice cubes with water and crushed peppermint leaves. Wrap ice in plastic; applying under your eyes may help soothe sinuses.

Soothing Steam
Mix warm water, salt and honey in a large bowl. Place a small towel over your head and inhale the steam from the bowl to clear sinuses.

Symptom-Fighting Sip
Heat crushed garlic, ginger, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, honey and water in a saucepan. Drink two ounces of the mixture once a day.

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