Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes -- these hallmark symptoms of seasonal allergies can overwhelm you. But while allergies can’t be completely cured, you can take simple steps to reduce the misery they cause.
First, Know Your Allergens
Seasonal allergies are typically caused by grass, tree or weed pollens. Different plants release pollen at different times of the year. The worst season for someone with allergies depends on which plant pollen causes their allergies.
Grass pollen is a major allergy trigger in Northern California from March through June. Different trees make pollens at different times, which can cause sensitivity year-round. Weed pollens are more common in summer and early fall. Talk to your doctor about allergy testing. Once you know what causes your allergies, you can take steps to protect yourself.
Second, Reduce Your Exposure to Allergens
These simple tips to help reduce allergy attacks:
- Cover bed pillows with allergen-proof liners.
- Never wear clothes worn outside to the bed.
- Wash your hands when you come inside to rinse off any pollen.
- Wash bed linens every week, and other bedding such as blankets and entire comforters monthly.
- Keep windows closed from sunrise to mid-morning. Pollen levels peak in the morning. Also, keep windows closed if it has been windy.
- While driving, keep your car windows up and use the recycle air setting to keep pollen out of the car.
Third, Treat Your Allergy Symptoms
The most natural and effective allergy treatment to ease your allergy symptoms is an over-the-counter saline nose rinse. These rinses flush allergens and other irritants out of the nose before they can trigger symptoms. Be sure to wash the applicator after each use.
A Neti pot or sinus rinse bottle can help you give a thorough rinse to your nose and sinuses.
If you need more help to control symptoms, you can try over-the-counter medications:
- Over-the-counter allergy medications are safe for short-term use. They usually ease allergy symptoms within an hour or two, although sometimes they take two to three days to work. They are safe for as-needed or regular use for symptom relief, but do not prevent allergies.
- Antihistamine eye drops can soothe itchy eyes right away, and they’re safe to use. You can also use artificial tears (saline eye drops) throughout the day to help soothe irritated eyes.
- Cortisone nasal sprays are the most effective medicines to help prevent allergies. They can help reduce your allergic reaction. They’re safe to use regularly, but often take up to a few weeks to have an impact.
Your doctor can help you decide which medications are best for your symptoms, and may refer you to an allergist for specialty care. Don’t skip this important step. You should consult with your doctor before using any over-the-counter medication regularly.