It’s here: allergy season. Wait a minute, didn’t I just get over my spring allergies?! Yes, my allergies have become so awful and persistent that allergy “season” is a year-round affair for me. In trying to avoid feeling like crap daily, here are some tips that I hope help you get through the worst of allergy season:
First, take precautions outside and around your house to help you avoid or minimize your exposure to allergens:
- Check the pollen count on a local weather site to know what kinds of pollen are floating around, and what kind of day you have to look forward to. Pollen is measured on an 12 point scale – 12 being the highest amount of pollen in the air (and most likely to have an effect on people with allergies), and 0 being the lowest. I have an app on my phone for this.
- If you can, stay indoors (with windows shut) during the middle of the day – pollen release peaks between 10am and 3pm.
- Shower before bed to wash off any pollen that has collected on your skin or in your hair.
- Change your clothes after being outside for any period of time – e.g. when you get home from work, change into a clean (pollen-free) outfit.
- Change your sheets more often than you usually would (probably once per week is sufficient).
- Close your windows! Keep the pollen outside.
- If you have air conditioning, change the filters regularly.
- Vacuum and clean rugs and surfaces often.
Because it’s impossible to completely eliminate your exposure (unless you live in a bubble), drugs* and natural remedies can help too:
- Use a daily antihistamine that works for you – both Allegra and Claritin (including generic forms) are available over-the-counter, as are plenty of other medications that can be taken on a regular, long-term basis. I would advise against using Benadryl since it tends to induce drowsiness (even the non-drowsy kind, for me).
- Consider a daily steroid nasal spray, like Flonase, to build up your sinus defenses – if you use one, try doing 1 pump per nostril in the morning, and 1 pump in the evening to help distribute it throughout your day (otherwise you might feel the effects wear off towards the end of the day and you’ll be in for a night of stuffed-up sleeping).
- Use a Neti-Pot or other nasal irrigation system – if you don’t know what this is, look it up on YouTube. And yes, it is disgusting (in a very satisfying way) – but it’s one of the only things that I’ve found to actually work for me. In the peak of allergy season, I use it once in the morning and once before bed, plus sometimes when I get home from work if I’m having a rough day.
- Carry Sudafed or another decongestant with you, just in case.
- Consult your doctor about seasonal allergy shots, which help build up your immunity against common allergens.
For more information, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology’s website.
*Of course, you should consult your doctor or allergist before starting any new drug or natural remedies for allergy treatment. I’m not a doctor – these are just the methods that have helped me the most in overcoming my allergies!