If you're human, chances are you have allergies. It's estimated that at least 58 million people suffer from spring allergies; according to WebMD, about 55 percent of Americans test positive for one or more allergens. On top of all that, WebMD reported last November that four million workdays are lost each year due to hay fever, and it's estimated that the annual cost of allergies to businesses and the healthcare system here in the U.S. reaches over seven million dollars.
If you suffer from spring allergies, it's highly likely that fall allergies will get to you, too; 75 percent of people who experience allergic reactions to spring plants are also allergic to ragweed, which happens to be the number one trigger of fall allergies. Of course, summer and winter allergies are also a thing — so unless you're one of the lucky few out there who is completely immune to every season's allergy triggers, now is as good of a time as any to figure out how to tame your allergies, especially before fall rolls around.
Here are seven different ways to handle your allergies, no matter which season gives you the sniffles.
1. Talk To Your Doctor About Your Symptoms
If you haven't already made an appointment to talk to your doctor about your allergy symptoms, then that should probably be your first step. You need to make sure your symptoms are actually the result of seasonal allergy triggers before you start treating yourself for allergies, because sometimes cold symptoms and allergy symptoms are easily confused. Plus, as Alan Henry pointed out for Lifehacker, if your allergy symptoms are really rough, your doctor might need to prescribe you some of the more heavy-duty antihistamines, eye drops, and nose sprays that aren't available over-the-counter.
2. Keep Your Home As Clean & Dust-Free As Possible
Most of us don't love to clean, but no matter which season is your allergy season, one of the simplest ways to keep your allergy symptoms at bay is to clean your home regularly. Even if you keep your windows shut all day, (which Lifehacker advises) you could still be bringing in allergens on your clothes, shoes, and even your hands — so make sure you're keeping up with your laundry situation, dusting, vacuuming, and wiping down your counter tops as frequently as your schedule will allow. Oh, and according to WebMD, if you can use a vacuum with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, then you should. Apparently, HEPA filters pick up way more allergens than plain old vacuums, so it's definitely worth the investment if you can afford to splurge on cleaning supplies.
3. Get Naked & Shower As Soon As You Get Home
Not only are our clothes and shoes essentially magnets for spilled coffee and street germs, but they also collect a ton of allergens. So if you haven't already developed this habit, you might want to start stripping down and kicking off your shoes the second you walk through your door after work. Then, once you're all naked and barefoot, hop in the shower so you can wash out all the allergens that have undoubtedly been landing in your glorious mane and clinging to your hair products throughout the day.
4. Keep Eye Drops Everywhere
Even if you don't suffer from seasonal allergies, you should still consider keeping saline eye drops handy — because they do an awesome job of reducing redness and relieving dryness. Personally, I use eye drops almost daily, just because they give my screen-loving eyeballs the relief they so desperately need. More importantly, though, eye drops do a great job of washing irritants, like pollen, mold, and dust mites out of your itchy eyeballs.
Antihistamine eye drops are also great for allergy sufferers — but it's important to keep in mind that those kinds of eye drops can cause drowsiness, and they're not safe for long-term use, either. As WebMD put it, "Antihistamine eye drops work well for itchy, watery eyes. You may need to use them several times a day, but don’t use the over-the-counter kinds for more than 2-3 days."
5. Consider Investing in A Neti Pot
OK, so I get that neti pots are kind of gross, but I can tell you from experience that they will work wonders for allergy relief and overall sinus health. Many of my sinus infections have been cured from neti pots alone, and whenever spring allergies have made mouth-breathing my only option, my trusty neti pot always saved the day.
So, yes, sticking a tiny teapot in your nostril may seem weird, but it actually makes perfect sense. As Jeffrey Demain, MD, director of the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Center in Anchorage, AK told WebMD, “It’s like washing your hands if you have a cat." Demain also addressed the fact that, like it or not, we all have a ton of tiny nose hairs that are great for trapping allergens, so flushing out your nose can be really helpful when it comes to handling your allergies.
If you're still wigged out about pouring saltwater in your nose, check out this neti pot slideshow the folks over at WebMD put together.
6. Avoid Cigarette Smoke, Heavy Perfumes, And Other Irritants
As Everyday Health put it back in 2014, "If you have outdoor or indoor allergies, any substance that irritates your airways can make your symptoms worse." So if allergies are a problem for you, then you should probably stick to lightly scented (or unscented) bath and beauty products, throw out your air fresheners, and avoid cigarette smoke as much as possible.
7. Find An Over-The-Counter Antihistamine That Works For You
Not all antihistamines are alike, so you'll likely need to shop around and try a few before you find the kind that works for you. As Lifehacker reported back in 2014, Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec are all effective at alleviating allergy symptoms, they're typically non-drowsy, and they're available in generic brands. So, if you're not sure where to start when it comes to allergy medication, then you might want to try any one of the above listed meds first. Benadryl is also super effective, but as you may know, it's likely to leave you feeling drowsy. Eye drops and nasal steroid sprays are probably your quickest option for allergy relief, but they're a little pricier than pills, so keep that in mind. This is why you want to talk to a doctor first to see what they recommend for you.
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