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4 Ways to Handle Allergies

Teary, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing. Yep, it’s allergy season again. It can be tough to find some form of relief, so we asked four experts to give us some advice for this common problem.

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As many as 10 million Canadians suffer from seasonal allergies every year.

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1. Try Some Medication

1. Try Some Medication

The news is good. In the past, antihistamines made people drowsy, but newer ones (loratadine, fexofenadine and cetirizine) are much less likely to. Inhaled nasal steroids and antihistamines can help. So can OTC decongestant nasal sprays, but don’t use them for more than a few days, or you could make the problem worse. Allergy shots can prevent symptoms and reduce the need for medication.

Ira Finegold, MD, Past President, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

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2. Spice Up Your Diet

2. Spice Up Your Diet

Variety, balance and moderation are the hallmarks of a healthy diet, so eat nutritious, colourful foods (blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli). Some allergy drugs are dehydrating, so be sure to get enough fluids. If you’re stuffed up, try spicy foods (hot peppers, wasabi, horseradish), which can help open up nasal passages.

Carolyn O’Neil, RD, Atlanta, Georgia, Coauthor Of The Dish: On Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!

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3. Laugh It Up

3. Laugh It Up

Laughter may be the best medicine (as if we didn’t know!). Joyful, not dark, humour optimizes the immune system. And laughing relieves stress, which can worsen allergies, so it may also ease your symptoms. But, as with exercise, you must do it regularly to get the benefit. Try to laugh three to four times a week for 20 to 40 minutes, minimum.

Lee Berk, DRPH, Associate Professor, Health Promotion and Education, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, California

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4. Bulid Up Your Immune System

4. Bulid Up Your Immune System

Eat more fruits, vegetables and omega-3s (salmon, mackerel, flaxseed, walnuts) to help modulate your immune system. The herb butterbur and the bioflavonoid quercetin are thought to work like antihistamines, but check with your doctor first. And the more time you spend inside, especially when pollen levels are high, the better you’ll feel.

Steven C. Halbert, Md, Clinical Assistant Professor, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

More articles to help with allergy relief:

  1. Balancing Allergies and Pets
  2. Get the Allergies in the Air Out of Your Hair
  3. What to Do in a Food Allergy Emergency

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