April showers will bring May flowers—along with the pollen that can make you sniff, sneeze and rub your eyes. Healthy Hairdresser picked up these tips for minimizing your allergy misery from the famed Mayo Clinic.
- Monitor the pollen count. When it’s high, close windows and, if necessary, take allergy meds before your symptoms show up.
- Stay indoors on dry, windy days.
- Keep indoor air clean and dry with air-conditioning, filters and dehumidifiers.
- Grab your outside time after a good rain that clears pollen from the air.
- Remove clothes you’ve worn outside.
- Shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
- Wear a pollen mask if you do outside chores.
- Work on the lawn or in the garden. Get someone else to do the mowing.
- Hang laundry outside; pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
Here’s a guide to over-the-counter medications:
- Oral antihistamines—can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes. Claritin, Alavert, Zyrtec Allergy, Allegra Allergy.
- Decongestants—can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Use no more than a few days in a row; longer-term use of the nasal sprays has been show to worsen symptoms. Oral: Sudafed, Afrinol. Nasal sprays: Afrin, Neo-Synephrine.
- Sodium nasal spray—can ease allergy symptoms with no serious side effects; most effective before your symptoms start. Cromolyn.
- Combination medications—combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Claritin-D, Allegra-D.
Rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution is a quick, inexpensive and effective way to relieve nasal congestion by flushing out allergens. Use a squeeze bottle or a neti pot. Make the saline irrigation solution with water that’s distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller. Rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly pure water and leave open to air-dry.
Natural remedies that may help include extracts of the shrub butterbur and spirulina, although the benefits and safety aren’t clear. Some people say they find relief with acupuncture. Talk to your doctor before trying alternative treatments. If nothing works, see an allergist. You may need allergy shots or under-the-tongue tablets that, over time, reduce the immune system reaction that causes symptoms.
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