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How to Handle Allergies
Most people look forward to spring, with its warmer weather and blooming flowers. But if you have seasonal allergies, spring can bring a misery of sneezing, runny nose, itching and congestion.
Millions of Americans have seasonal allergies, which are caused mainly by pollen. The Mayo Clinic offers some suggestions for lessening your suffering:
Avoid allergens. Stay inside on windy, dry days. If you can, get someone else to do outdoor chores that can kick up pollen, such as mowing the lawn, weeding, etc. If you must tackle those chores yourself, wear a pollen-resistant mask. When you come in from outside, put your clothes in the wash and get in the shower to remove pollen from your skin. And don’t hang laundry outside.
Know when pollen is worst. Television and radio stations and other media often announce the pollen level in your area. If high pollen counts are expected, start taking allergy medication and close your windows. Pollen is usually worst in the morning and lowest after a strong rain.
Keep the indoors clean. Use air-conditioning rather than open windows to cool your home and car. Get high-efficiency filters for your heating and cooling system, and change them regularly. Put a portable HEPA filter in your bedroom, and vacuum often with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.
Take medication. Start with over-the-counter medications, which come in five different types:
- Oral antihistamines, which can ease sneezing, runny nose, watering eyes and itching. Name brands include Claritan and Zyrtec.
- Decongestants, such as Sudafed and Neo-Synephrine, which make you feel less stuffed up. However, you should only take decongestants for a few days; if you take them for longer, they can actually make you feel more congested.
- Drugs that include both antihistamines and decongestants, such as Claritin-D or Allegra-D.
- Nasal sprays, which are most effective when used before allergy symptoms appear.
- Nasal rinses. You can rinse your nasal passages with a saline solution, using a squeeze bottle or neti pot. Use distilled, boiled or filtered water to mix the solution, which can wash allergens out of your nasal passages.
Talk to your doctor about other options if over-the-counter medications are not providing sufficient relief.