April Showers Bring May Flowers—and Seasonal Allergies
Flowers and trees are blooming, and if you’re one of the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, this is the time for sneezing, congestion, a runny nose and other bothersome symptoms.
Seasonal allergies—also called hay fever and allergic rhinitis—can make you miserable. Try these simple strategies to keep your allergies under control.
Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers. To reduce your exposure to allergens, which trigger your allergy symptoms:
- Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps to remove pollen from the air.
- Remove clothes you’ve worn outside when you come back in.
- Take a shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
- Don’t hang laundry outside to dry. Pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
- Wear a mask if you do outside work or chores.
Take extra steps when pollen counts are high. Seasonal allergies can flare up when there’s a lot of pollen in the air. These steps can help reduce your exposure:
- Check your local TV or radio station, local newspaper or the internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels.
- If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
- Close doors and windows and use air conditioning when pollen counts are high.
- Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning, when pollen counts are highest.
Keep indoor air clean. There is no miracle product that can eliminate all allergens from the air in your home, but these suggestions may help:
- Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
- If you have forced-air heating or air conditioning in your house, use high-efficiency filters, and follow regular maintenance schedules.
- Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
- Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
- Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
Try an over-the-counter remedy. Several types of nonprescription medications can ease allergy symptoms. They include:
- Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose, and watery eyes. Examples include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra).
- Decongestants. Oral decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol and others) can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Decongestants also come in nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine). Use nasal decongestants for only a few days in a row; longer-term use can worsen symptoms.
- Nasal spray. Cromolyn sodium nasal spray can ease allergy symptoms without serious side effects. It works best, though, if you begin using it before your symptoms start.
- Combination medications. Some allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Examples include loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D) and fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D).
When home remedies aren’t enough, see your doctor. For many people, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications is enough to ease symptoms. But if seasonal allergies are still bothering you, don’t give up.