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    5 Ways to Beat Spring Allergies

    3. Protect yourself early on.

    Start taking medicine long before your eyes get watery and you’re sneezing nonstop, “at least 1 week before the season begins,” Kim says. That way, the medicine will be in your system by the time you need it.

    4. Get natural relief.

    Some herbal remedies may help stave off allergy symptoms. More research is needed, but an extract from a shrub called butterbur shows promise. Biminne, a Chinese herbal formula with ingredients like ginkgo biloba and Chinese skullcap, may also help. One study found that people who took biminne five times a day for 12 weeks still felt the benefits a year later.

    Tell your doctor first. “‘Natural’ or ‘alternative’ doesn’t necessarily mean safe,” says Anna Esparham, MD, a doctor of integrative medicine at The University of Kansas Hospital.

    Butterbur may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to plants like ragweed and marigold. Biminne doesn’t always work well with diabetes medicines. And because it’s unclear how these herbs help, the possible long-term side effects are unknown, Kim says.

    5. Tweak your home.

    Simple changes make a difference. Shut all windows to keep out pollen. Use an air conditioner to cool your home instead of a fan, which draws in air from outside.

    Take off your shoes at the door and ask guests to do the same. That keeps allergens outside.

    Clean floors with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. These filters trap 99.97% of microscopic particles in the air. And don’t line-dry clothes or sheets in warmer weather! They’ll collect pollen while they hang outside.

    Finally, don’t smoke. It can make allergy symptoms worse. If you or someone you live with smokes, now is a good time to quit. If you start smoking again, start over.

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    Reviewed on October 27, 2015

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